Yoga is essentially a practice for your soul, working through the
medium of your body.
-- Tara Fraser
September is national yoga month. To celebrate, I thought we would talk all about yoga!
What is yoga?
Some people would call it a physical exercise because of its literal physical component and you move through the asanas. Other people would call it a spiritual practice because it’s easy to feel more centered and connected to themselves and more aware of their emotions after developing a regular practice. And yet others consider it more of a mental and emotional practice because of the fact that it improves focus and clarity, gives people a sense of well-being, and seems to give people a sense of hope.
There are soooo many styles of yoga.
Hatha is great for people who are beginners because it focuses a lot on breathing. I have found my Hatha teachers to be gentle and the classes to be truly calming.
Vinyasa classes move quickly from one pose to the next concentrating on the breath. During these classes I became much more aware of how I inhale when my body ‘opened’ and exhaled as I ‘closed.’ Vinyasa can be much more of a workout though they have variations such as Yinyasa which is a pairing of the two types.
Yin yoga concentrates on holding poses for long periods of time as a way to stretch and lengthen tissue in the body. Many people find that they become emotional during their practice as emotions, anxieties and traumas are released during this practice. It is a lot tougher than people think.
Restorative yoga is much more gentle and while it also holds poses, it was created for people who had injuries. It works to release deep tension passively, without any active stretch.
Ashtanga is a tougher workout as it is fast paced and more intense in the movements and it synchronizes its movements with the breath.
Bikram yoga is a type of hot yoga. It is practiced in a heated room - usually around 100 degrees. They have specific movements in their sequence and they don't stray. It is amazingly detoxing for the body though. The first time I did it, I thought I would melt! But I was fascinated with the agility and flexibility my body gained in the heat! I would definitely suggest going to a doctor and getting the seal of approval before starting any practice but for stepping into the heat I would say DEFINITELY!
Covid certainly changed the world of yoga. There were so many yoga studios that were unable to survive this pandemic. And so while the doors closed on many of the studios, yoga practices for a lot of people truly changed. Online yoga came to life. It was something that I would not have thought I would’ve enjoyed in the past. One of the many things I’ve enjoyed about my practice was being in the studio for the ambience which included everything from the lighting, the subtle smell of the incense in the air, the presence and energy of the teacher, the people around me, the equipment that might been provided, etc. But, things have really, really changed.
There are wonderful sites that you can join for online classes. I am just completing my yoga teaching certification and look forward to being able to provide this in the future.
Well if there is a positive that comes out of doing online your classes because of Covid, the beauty is that you can do classes whenever you want. The availability is whenever you have time or want to do classes. The flexibility is much different than it would have been if you were going to a yoga studio. I, myself, have found that I am able to do online classes much easier now that I can do it after my very long work hours. This could be a great opportunity to look at your schedule and see when you have the most energy to participate in an exercise regimen and schedule it in.
Anyone can do yoga. And I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say that they did not want to go to the gym because of the fact that they either felt judged by the people around them or they were judging themselves because the people who were at the gym did not look “to them“ as though they needed the gym in the first place. One of the first things that we need to do in life is to stop judging ourselves and to stop judging others. First, there is no perfection in the yoga. Anybody and any BODY can participate in yoga. People have different limitations in their body, differences in the flexibility, gender can play a role, age can play a part, past injuries, exercise history, and even what they do for a living (sitting at a desk vs walking all day). It is soooo important NOT to judge ourself or compare ourselves to the person sitting next to us in class but rather continue to feel the differences and changes in our body from class to class.
The list of why we should do yoga is so long that I could go on for pages. But some of the most important ones include the fact that yoga helps to increase our flexibility, helps to reduce stress, increases our range of motion, improves balance, increases concentration and focus, cultivates the mind body connection, increases blood flow, boosts the immune system…..whew the list goes on!!
It is not expensive to start a yoga practice. While joining a yoga studio in the past may have been considered somewhat expensive, there are plenty of opportunities to do yoga online for much less expensive - if not for free. While having some equipment like a yoga mat and some blocks would be ideal, they are not necessary and alternative equipment could be used while you are deciding whether it is something you would like to involve yourself with long term.
If you are a newbie, I’d love to hear if you give yoga a try. And if you have been doing yoga for a while, I would love to hear why it is your passion!