by Kristin Smith
Yoga for the People
Busting the common myths about a yoga practice
ONE OF THE THINGS that keeps people from beginning a yoga practice is the common, but misguided belief that you need to be flexible. Yoga isn’t about flexibility; it’s also not about terminology, expensive clothing or pricy studios. Don’t let the myths keep you from experienc- ing the benefits. It’s a daily practice that never expects perfection and flexibility. In fact, there are no expectations in yoga.
Yoga is about connecting to your body so you understand it at a deeper level. It offers you a refuge from the chaos of life and allows you to quiet the mind so that you refresh your spirit to a place of humbled joy.
The practice of yoga has so many beau- tiful options – from seated (including breathwork and meditation) to postures (asana). It doesn’t require a certain fitness level, just the action of trying to be with what is in that moment. While yoga can cultivate strength of the physical body with asana, it often works in a more pronounced way on the mind. When the two are con- nected, profound changes can occur.
Many people think they have to join fancy yoga studios and know yoga terminology to begin practice. Not true! Today, you can find many online classes for home practice that are cost effective. And many instruc- tors offer “pedestrian speak” language for poses. While online classes are a great introduction to practice and offer the abil- ity to take classes “on the go,” exploring local studios and trying various classes live will give a sense of what fits your desire and needs. Sometimes a restorative yoga or restful yoga may be more appropriate, where you will use various props during practice. Others may want or need an invigorating flow like vinyasa in which to ignite more energy into the body. No mat- ter what type of yoga you try, I encourage you to start with a lower level and work your way up as you see fit.
Another option to consider is private yoga instruction with a certified teacher. One-on-one opportunities allow the teacher to work closely with your alignment so that you minimize the risk of injury. Also, private instruction offers the opportunity to deepen your knowledge of why you are doing certain poses, allowing a greater appreciation of practice.
Your most important yoga move may be off the mat
Starting is the most important step you can take in yoga.
While most people think about yoga being practiced on the mat, the disciplines developed through movement can be ben- eficial off the mat as well. Better balance, grounding and centering can make a differ- ence in quality of everyday living, not just the moves on the mat.
As you continue to develop your prac- tice, remember that “effort” and “restore” are key words to keep in mind. Use those same words as you would in your life. You offer effort to your work, family, commu- nity and the world to feel deeply satisfied in life. However, at no point should effort work to the detriment of health. Always work to restore your body, mind and spirit on and off the mat.
Kristin Smith is a wellness coach. Find more information at www.kristinsmithwellness.com.