By Andrew Jovanovic, RYT-200, Professional Counseling Intern
A lot of people have initial fears and reservations about starting a yoga practice. What is yoga? How does it help? What will be expected of me? Is this something I can do? These reservations are normal and natural – so take a deep breath. My name is Andrew and I have been practicing yoga for 11 years now. I have learned a lot about yoga since I became a yoga teacher 3 years ago. Let me share with you what I have learned.
What is Yoga? Is it a religion?
Yoga is mind-body-spiritual practice, however, you can choose which combination of those three avenues you want to venture on. The aim of yoga is to “yoke” you back into you. Much of our daily lives are spent observing and reacting to the external world, so eventually we become more focused on what is going on around us. Or, perhaps you spend so much of your day being internally aware that you can’t shut your mind up or calm your nerves. Yoga aims to bring your awareness back to you and also to learn how to operate your brain.
Yoga is part of a bigger system of health and can be practiced with any religious beliefs. Yoga does have a ‘8-Limbed System’; this system consists of values pertaining to how you treat yourself and others, physical yoga poses, breathing exercises, and various levels of meditation that help you learn how to control your awareness and not let the daily internal and external struggles overwhelm you. No drugs, no diet change, you don’t have to buy anything. The only thing you have to spend is time towards promoting a better you.
What makes Yoga exercise? Can I get hurt doing Yoga? Do I have to be a contortionist?
What you can expect at Walter’s Walk’s Yoga classes are physical yoga poses, breathing exercises and various meditation exercises. The beauty of doing yoga at Walter’s Walk is that you get personalized small-class attention. Do you have to be flexible to do yoga? No, in fact you become flexible by practicing the physical poses and the breathing exercises. This small-class attention makes a huge difference in the potential for injury.
Doing anything physical has a certain possibility of injury. There is the potential for injury while practicing the physical postures of Yoga. However, with the small-class attention Walter’s Walk Yoga classes provide, that potential for injury is low. With that being said, the potential for growth and expansion comes with each pose you practice, each breath you take with every thought you think. Both Patti and I bring multiple years of experience of both practicing and teaching Yoga.
What makes yoga exercise? By engaging in the physical poses of Yoga you are engaging muscles and assuming positions that you probably haven’t been in for quite some time. Many students speak of relearning about their bodies as they learn the poses. Each physical pose carries multiple benefits that help the body become stronger, toner, more flexible and helps to purify the body of toxins that come through the air, water, and food we consume. Also at Walter’s Walk we take our time in teaching you the poses and answering any questions you have about anything we are doing in class.
Keep in mind, you can always not do a pose – it is your yoga practice, not mine.
Is Yoga for men?
I get this question quite common in fact and I can understand why people would feel the need to ask it – most yoga classes you see on television mostly contain women. Which is quite ironic considering the history of Yoga. Back in the beginning yoga was developed by men for men. A lot of the poses that have developed over time hold specific benefits to men. However, Yoga has grown and adapted to many different groups of people and has created poses with specific benefits for anyone who wants to try Yoga.
So what are the benefits of Yoga?
Keep in in mind; just like anything else in life, if you do not practice it you will lose it. The benefits you receive from a yoga practice depend on how often you practice and what poses you enter. Generally speaking the more you practice yoga the more benefits you will experience and they will come quicker as well. Also, Yoga teaches us how to relax – so not every yoga class is about the body; sometimes we focus on letting go, experiencing ourselves in a calm atmosphere, learning how to use our breath to affect our mind and learning how to operate our mind.
For the body the benefits include…
· Increased core strength
· Lowers blood pressure
· Weight management
· Improved digestion
· Improved circulation
· Body detoxification
· Pain and tension relief
· Increased flexibility
· Improved posture
· Increased immunity.
For the mental benefits they include…
· Improved intuition
· Increased self-acceptance
· Improved concentration
· Neutralized stress
· Improved memory
· Increase mental awareness
· Focus on the present
· Increased confidence
· Unlocked energy flow
· Balanced brain hemispheres.
I want to end this blog with some examples of what you can expect at Walter’s Walk:
Relaxing Chair Yoga Flow
Waking Up Chair Yoga Flow
Yoga for Complete Beginners – Anxiety Relief