Mountain pose. Downward facing dog. Upward facing dog. Warrior I. Warrior II. Savasana.
Most Americans have heard these terms before. And although they are some of the more well-known physical asanas, or poses, in yoga, still only a small percentage of people have ever experienced or practiced them. My guess is that if you haven’t ever practiced yoga, it is because of one of the following reasons:
I’ll admit. Over the course of my life, I have experienced and had to work through all three of these barriers, too! But hopefully in this article, or if you come to one of my classes at The FIT Zone, I can change your mindset about yoga and all it has to offer.
So, myth-buster number 1. Yoga is not a religion. The word yoga, which comes from the ancient Sanskrit language, means ‘to yoke,’ or ‘to unify,’ mind, body and soul/spirit. It can be practiced alongside and in addition to any formal religion, or on its own by any person who is not of any particular faith. Yoga does not claim or teach the existence of any God or Gods; rather, it simply reminds us of the importance of exploring our internal life, and it incorporates various techniques – physical poses, breathing techniques, mindfulness/slowing down our minds – to help us do that.
My personal story helps demonstrate myth-buster number 2. I started dancing – ballet, tap, jazz – when I was three years old and started practicing yoga at age 16 because I hoped it would help me become a better dancer. I wanted to be thinner, more muscular and more flexible. As I continued practicing yoga through high school and more seriously in college, though, the physical benefits of yoga became bonuses, because what I noticed and was even more grateful for were things like: I was sleeping better. I was able to focus more easily on my schoolwork. I was generally happier and more optimistic about challenges I was facing. I craved less junk food. I drank more water and retained less. As more time passed, yoga helped me transform my relationship with myself and my body, as well as with my family and friends. I started reacting to situations less, and my emotions stopped ‘ruling my world.’ I noticed myself feeling grateful many times per day – for small things like the selection of organic fruit at the local farmer’s market and for big things like my life. Yoga eventually helped me create space in my life to explore and develope a deep connection with my passion and purpose.
The lesson? Yoga absolutely can be a good workout, but more important are its holistic benefits – the way it addresses us as whole people and changes us from the-inside-out. And as you have perhaps read in magazines and newspapers, more than ever before, mainstream medical and scientific research is finally affirming and proving not only the physical benefits of yoga, but the mental and emotional benefits of yoga, as well.
Finally, I want to tell you “I know!” I know, and it frustrates me, too, that with the Westernization of yoga, classes have become largely financially inaccessible to many people, which is why I’m so glad I’m here in Central Oregon, and La Pine specifically! I am committed to making yoga more accessible to more people in this community, so I hope you will join me at The FIT Zone or through a private yoga lesson for a new kind of yoga experience that is sure to replenish your body, mind, heart and soul!