True confession: When they asked me to write a post about yoga, my first move was to ask one of the yoga instructors to do it for me. That’s who should tell you about the benefits of yoga, right? The people who’ve devoted their lives and livelihoods to this stuff.
And while you CAN look forward to some yoga-rific posts from one of our therapeutic yoga practitioners in the future, today, you’re stuck with me.
After some hemming, hawing, and a little bit of math, I had a thought: I’ve been practicing yoga for ELEVEN YEARS, and have tried several different styles. I have integrated a regular yoga practice into a well-rounded fitness regimen that includes strength training, cardio, and Gx4 classes. Maybe I have something to say about it after all.
You’re not into yoga.
If yoga seems intimidating and weird to you, you’re not alone. From an outsider’s perspective, People Who Do Yoga can seem impossibly flexible, annoyingly at peace with the Universe, and definitely drunk on some woo-woo kool-aid. (For all I know, I might seem this way to some of you. Sorry.)
It’s hard to understand something that’s new and foreign, that involves a bunch of crazy-patterned tights and body positions you could never imagine yourself doing (or enjoying.) Plus, anything as wildly popular as yoga tends to foster some suspicion and resistance. It seems like a fad, a corporatized gimmick, a racket, a cult.
The Westernization of yoga has certainly contributed to all of this. Our 21st-Century American selves have trouble understanding a physical activity that’s not about burning calories or losing weight. We have trouble trusting an “exercise” whose only purpose is to calm us down.
Before I move on, I want to make one thing clear: yoga, like anything else, is not for everyone. Some people just don’t dig it, and that’s fine. But there are a vast number of folks who don’t think they’d like it, or who had one bad experience, and have closed their minds to the possibility that yoga could help them. I’m talking to YOU.
…or ARE you?
Number one thing to understand: Saying you’re not into yoga is like saying you’re not eating carbs. You could mean jelly beans or raspberries, brown rice or a banana nut muffin. Each one of those foods is a completely different experience, with different effects on your body. The word “carbs” is kind of meaningless. It’s too vague and general, and not reflective of all the different varieties and possibilities.
Same goes for yoga. There are at least ten different styles I can think of off the top of my head, and I’m just a student in a class. There’s Ashtanga, a fast-moving practice that fosters power and strength, or Yin Yoga, which holds each pose for several minutes and encourages deep relaxation. There’s Vinyasa, a flowing practice that connects movement with breath, and there’s Bikram, where participants repeat the same 26-movement sequence every time… in a 104° room.
Hang in there. I have a point.
So how do you know which style to try? How can you ensure you won’t end up the only baby boomer in a class full of college kids, scratching your bum while everyone else does an effortless headstand?
I get it. Delving into the world of yoga is overwhelming. To start, all you need to do is ask questions. Do research. And if you’re feeling adventurous, just try any class with the word “beginner” in the title.
Or, you can join us for a Therapeutic Yoga Info Session on Thursday, June 4th at 6pm.
As a seasoned practitioner, I’m super excited about this program. I’ve never seen a more inviting, accessible style of yoga. I love the concept of integrating yoga with the principles of physical therapy and functional movement. It takes yoga down from the lofty, woo-woo rafters, and delivers it to your grandma with arthritis, your uncle who’s 150 pounds overweight, your tight-as-the-Tin-Man hips and shoulders.
If you’ve never tried yoga, or have a bad taste in your mouth from a previous experience, you should definitely check this out. Our yoga program is the perfect bridge from Total Beginner to Regular Practitioner. No one will judge you, and you don’t even have to wear crazy tights.
Again, that’s Thursday, June 4th at 6pm. You can reserve your spot HERE.
And now, it just so happens, I’m off to a yoga class.