(Photo shows downward facing dog pose)
Every single yogi has a unique story of how they arrived at yoga, and why they have chosen to teach their style to others. No matter which limb they choose to share with others, they all journey down the same path together since yoga is a very wide path.
For most beginners, it’s a relatively subtle form of exercise that doesn’t require endurance, or physical ability. It doesn’t require expensive equipment, and it can be practiced within the home.
It’s an opportunity to get a little sweaty, stretch muscle groups, and help with breathing and strengthening our core muscle group.
For this beginner, I came as a spiritual seeker. I wanted to experience the energy connection of mind, body and spirit. I had meditated before so I understood the benefits of being still. However, it opened up much more than I could imagine.
What keeps most people returning with their yoga mats is the opportunity to go beyond self imposed limitations and strengthen core muscles while improving flexibility. Yogis return because helping others nurtures the mind body and soul.
As outlined by ancient sutras (instruction), yoga has little to do with poses. Its primary purpose is spiritual in nature by enhancing self-awareness, self-improvement, and self-study. Practicing yoga invites us to show kindness and grace to ourselves, to be flexible with our minds and our bodies, and to be more fully present in our lives both on and off the mat.
As our society continues its hyper-pace, we get stressed and our communities get stressed. Managing career, kids, spouse, parents, grandparents and after-school activities can be overwhelming. I hear friends and acquaintances clamor that they can’t spare an hour. If you find yourself in this category, you’re the one that needs yoga the most.
You see, the signs of stress, even the early signs of stress, indicates that something within you is out of balance. These minor signs (headaches, grinding teeth, hair loss, inability to smile, irritable, etc) are your bodies way of telling you to slow down. They’re like the warning lights on our cars. The lights don’t come on after you hear metal grinding against metal. First, you get a light popping on your dash to “Check Brakes”.
Our bodies and mind do the same thing. Subtle hints emerge telling us to make changes. How many of us ignore the dash lights or subtle indicators? How many choose to wait until they hear metal on metal?
The very first yoga class will help you identify what stress is doing to your body. Some people hold their tension all day and their muscles become almost rigid. They can turn their head without moving their entire body. They’ve ignored the signs for far too long.
As you first begin to work on a muscle group through various asanas (poses), you will feel the tension. What you are learning is self-awareness. Then you can ask the question, “Why are my shoulders so tight?”
What is causing me to “hold” this stress in my body? The next time when you feel yourself beginning to tense up, you’ll be aware of it.
The connection between mind body and spirit will begin to make sense. There is a powerful connection between these three elements and they are meant to work together to function as a whole person. This is where the terms “holistic” come from – it’s treating the mind body and spirit as one.
We have lost this aspect of ourselves by becoming doers. We get in a routine and just go through the motions, one day after another. Our goals are to make a list and complete all the tasks and what we don’t get done today is added to tomorrow’s list, and we move along in one direction never realizing that there is much more to living than just doing.
Yoga can change lives as it connects the mind with body and nourishes the spirit.
To summarize, here are some good reasons to try yoga:
- Yoga is for everybody.
- No fancy clothes required
- No expensive classes necessary.
- No prior physical fitness required.
Yoga is about community. Around the world, across cultures, stretching back thousands of years through collaborations, giving, and sharing. Being part of the yoga community provides empowerment, generosity, and a sense of belonging.
Also, for those who want to explore yoga beyond the poses and how they make you feel, you can read about the sutras, explore the various limbs of yoga, delve into your chakra system, and commit to meditation.
You won’t believe what you’ll discover when you adventure down this path. We’d like to offer some outdoor yoga classes at Tuhey Pool this summer, so drop me a line if you’re interested in teaching or taking classes – firstname.lastname@example.org.