Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A Million Reasons Not to Go to Yoga Class

So here's a million (maybe that's a lot, but here's some) of reasons why I never wanted to go to a yoga class. Maybe some of these sound familiar:

1. I don't like the way I look in yoga clothes.
2. I don't like doing things in a group.
3. I don't know how to do yoga.
4. I'll be the only one in the room that doesn't know how to do yoga.
5. I don't do THAT kind of of yoga.
6. I'm not a "yoga" kind of person.
7. I'm not into traveling to do yoga when I can just stretch in my living room.
8. A friend of mine got hurt in yoga.
9. Yoga people are weird.
10. I haven't worked out lately.
11. The person next to me will be much better at it.
12. It costs too much and I don't want to spend money.
13. I already go to the gym.
14. I'm an athlete so why bother.
15. It's boring.
16. I can't cross my legs.
17. I'm too busy.

Ok so there are a few of the reasons. I get it. Yoga isn't for everyone. But here are a few things that might surprise you.

1. It's no one's business what others think about you.
Meaning, if the person next to you is judging your outfit, your fitness level, your hair, your thighs, then maybe they have a lot to of work to do...it's none of your concern.

In yoga class...it's all about you and what goes on on YOUR MAT. Kind of like you're on your own private island, in the sun, enjoying yourself. The teacher is the sun. It's just you and them. So in that light, it's easy to ignore the group, the girl next to you and focus on yourself.

2. Knowing HOW to do yoga is a process. That's why it's always called a "Yoga Practice." We go to practice.

Here's a secret. Few yogis actually graduate from yoga. Talk to anyone who's been in it for 20-30 years and they will tell you they still have a 'teacher.'  If you graduate, then you hit nirvana...think about how many people you know who have hit nirvana.

That's the point of yoga. Accepting that we are all humans in training. Once you feel that in your bones, it's freeing.

3. Though there are several schools of Yoga that teach postures (asanas) in many different styles, Yoga is really only one thing. Yoga is an ancient philosophy... a practice that brings joy and harmony on the deepest most lasting level.
You can achieve that joy by practicing yoga in many different ways; like flavors of ice cream. But in reality, it's really simple.

You can go to yoga, lay on your mat and breath, and that qualifies as a valid yoga practice.

So pick your flavor and then find an instructor that serves that up. You'll be happy you did.

4. Getting hurt in a yoga class is a real fear, a real concern and you can avoid it. It's important that you follow one simple rule in a yoga class since all teachers are trained differently. Decide what's best for you and stick to your own, personal limits and don't waiver even if you're tempted to compete or do exactly what the teacher tells you.

I have often just sit on the mat when I'm tired no matter how funny that looks and I'm a yoga teacher with a lot of years doing this work.

In the most cliche terms, listen to your body, and obey it. If something pinches, strains, or causes a biting pain, stop and slow down. If the stretch is within your limits and you're breathing and expanding then follow your body and go with it.

 Yoga does offer a  fair amount of "discomfort" and that's a totally different subject and something I teach in my classes to discern.

When in doubt consult the teacher, or just stop. Don't be afraid to be different when it comes to protecting your own body.

5. On the subject of being boring, let me say this about yoga. I think there's a perception today that anything that's not loud, fast, and produces money or sweat isn't worth the effort. I'd like to cordially disagree with that.

Yoga is like talking to an old person. At first glance you may see used up body, a feeble mind, a person out of synch with the world. But if you take the time to sit down and talk to them, you learn how fascinating their life has been, the cool lessons they've learned, the creative thoughts they have, the people they've loved. You walk away changed and you're not sure how that happened.

That's yoga, in a sense. It will change you for the better, and you won't know how that happened.
The thing about slowing down is that it's scary for some people. The idea that you would remove all the distractions and be alone with your thoughts for an hour is quite daunting.
I invite you to try. You might find it's a cool exploration and who knows, it might be as amazing as mountain biking.

So in conclusion, when you think of going to yoga class, be sure to run down your list of reasons why not. That exercise alone can burn a few hundred calories, but you will have missed the opportunity to try a new adventure.

I teach yoga at my home in Malden Bridge and at various studios in Columbia County. Please come. You are invited always.