With the growing popularity of yoga classes, the opinion that it is “just to stretch” or a sedentary meditation, are going by the wayside. But they still exist. I have conversations almost daily with people who have this opinion about yoga.
“It’s not even a workout” -The intense physical trainees, like your cyclists or runners.
“I’m not flexible enough” -The person who has never stretched a day in their lives.
“All you do is stretch.” -The cardio enthusiasts, as I like to call them.
These are just a few of the comments I hear regarding a yoga practice. And they are opinions that are strongly misled. There are numerous benefits to yoga, all of which improve your well-being in one way or another.
We all start our practice for different reasons. To lose weight. To de-stress. To gain strength. To detox. To change up our fitness routine. To meditate. To increase flexibility. The reason doesn’t matter. If you can find yourself being open-minded and sitting in a yoga class, I promise you will thank yourself later.
The important word here is openminded.
I emphasize that because a first impression means everything. The first time I tried yoga was at my local YMCA. It was on a basketball court with that fluorescent type lighting that makes your head spin. There was no music and the instructor’s voice echoed. I very much disliked that class and therefore, did not like yoga.
A few months later I got a groupon for a local Hot Vinyasa yoga studio. The experience was completely different. The room was dark. There was soothing music playing. It was quiet. And it kicked my butt. THAT is what I was looking for. A nice stretch that also burned some serious calories. Since then my perspective has changed. Of course, I still enjoy the physical part of yoga. But now, it is spiritual too. I have learned how to meditate. At least, my version of meditation. After 4 long nursing shifts at the hospital, nothing feels better than a yoga session. I can decompress. I can take time for myself. I don’t have to worry about taking care of another human. I can take 90 minutes to take care of ME. My mind becomes clear. My joints and muscles don’t feel like they’ve been supporting me for days.I feel better as a whole. I feel happier.
AND there are the added physical benefits of increasing strength and flexibility, burning calories (yes, you get your heart rate up) and establishing better balance. You don’t have to be a gymnast or a dancer to benefit from yoga. Modifications exist. Be clear with the instructor if you have issues with your knees, neck, back, shoulders, etc. They will help you modify so that you will still benefit from the practice. You can lose weight, resulting in stabilized blood sugars and decreased blood pressure. You will feel better and therefore eat better. Without even realizing it, you may become more conscious of what you are eating. Yoga is a clean, holistic practice. We don’t want to ruin that by doing toxic things to our bodies outside of our practice. They go hand-in-hand.
Stare your fear in the face. When I hear the reasons people don’t want to try yoga, that is all I think about. They are scared. Most likely of failing. I know I was. But you can’t fail in yoga. At the end of the day, it is YOUR practice. If you want to spend an entire class in savasana on your mat because that is just the kind of day you had, that is 100% acceptable. Teachers exist to guide you. That is all. Do what is best for YOU. That is why I love yoga. It doesn’t have to be intimidating.
There are many different types of yoga and within those types, each instructor and each studio has a different vibe. You must find the class that resonates with you. I say the best way to do this is to utilize groupon to your advantage. Studios often have coupons for 10 classes, or a month. Some places do 1st month deals to new students. It gives you an opportunity to explore different teaching styles, while at the same time, saving you money. That is what I did when I move to California. Yoga studios are like Starbucks here. They are everywhere. Ive been here for a year and have only tried 4 of them. (Thanks groupon!).
Take your time. Be open. Be nonjudgmental (of others and YOURSELF). I promise that you will find clarity and happiness.