Yoga is a lifestyle. It’s a way of life and a way of looking at the world. Most importantly, yoga is accessible to all. There are dozens of different kinds of yoga. If you didn’t like the few yoga classes you’ve tried, it simply means you haven’t found the right style for you. Whatever your complaint, there is a style of yoga out there to suit your preference. Yoga is for everyone and the truth is it can change your life. Here’s how:
In any given yoga class you may be asked to slow down, speed up, hold it, rest, close your eyes, breathe, listen…listen to what? Well, that’s for you to find out. Imagine you’re holding a pose that’s incredibly challenging and screaming inwardly for the teacher to guide you towards release. You’re sweating, you’re breathing. “This is it,” you’re instructor says. “This is yoga,” and you’re learning patience. The very next week you’re standing in the longest grocery line ever and somehow it’s not so bad.
Strong Body, Strong Bones
You’ve heard it before: weight-bearing activity builds strong bones and strong bones mean reduced chances of osteoporosis or the loss of bone mass as we age. Weight-bearing activity often conjures up images of body builders and endless repetitions holding free-weights in front of mirrors. Not the fitness routine for you? Try yoga. Positions like plank, side plank, downward facing dog, and tree pose place added body weight on hands and feet. Over time, this kind of activity prevents bone mass loss reducing the likelihood of certain age related diseases, not to mention the added muscle strength and endurance.
“Oh, I can’t do yoga. I’m not flexible at all!” I hear it all the time. When acquaintances find out that I’m a yoga instructor, all kinds of self-inflicted judgments begin to fly, as if they are apologizing for their delinquency. But honestly, saying you’re not flexible enough for yoga is like saying you’re too dirty to take a bath. Other protests to taking up a yoga practice: “I need to lose weight,” “I’m not patient enough (see above),” “I’m not good at it.” The magic of yoga is that it helps you through these issues.
Yoga is about experiencing each moment in life, noticing the details and being at peace with them. This starts on the mat. This amazing thing happens when you encounter a yoga pose that you think is impossible: you’ll encounter it again. And when you do, you scoff and think you know how silly it is and how your body will never be able to do that but you give it a go. Maybe you wobble, maybe you fall. But the next time your instructor takes you through that pose you think maybe you’ll give it another go. You do and eventually you get it. This thing you thought you could never do, you’ve done. It’s beautiful and suddenly, the world opens up. Every thing you ever said you couldn’t do can now be measured against this pose — this pose that you now can perform with confidence. And it will be hard not to bring this confidence into every other aspect of your life, including family and relationships, career building and health. If you want to pass on your wellness knowledge, you can even consider undergoing yoga teacher training or attending a massage therapy school to spread the love and joy to other apprehensive students.
Jazmine Green is an associate editor for LA YOGA Magazine who has written about yoga teacher training and massage therapy school programs. Jazmine lives and writes in Los Angeles, California.