“Yesterday I was clever. So I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise. So I am changing myself.”
Yoga Brings a greater sense of well-Being
I would like to take a minute of your time to explain why yoga can bring a greater sense of well-being and why it is often recommended by doctors and therapists for stress management, back problems, high blood pressure issues, knee pain, arthritis, etc. I have been practicing yoga for over nineteen years and have been teaching for over thirteen years. I have studied many different philosophies of yoga, as well as stress management. I find that each one offers a valuable tool. The more tools I can access, the more options I have to offer my students. Yoga has improved my back issues and physiology, brought me greater balance, strength and well being.
The Intention of Yoga
Yoga is about breaking down habitual patterns of moving and thinking. Habitual patterns that keep us stuck in imbalance and out of alignment mentally, physically and emotionally. Yoga is a tool that empowers us to choose how we are going to respond to life. We are all aware that stress causes health issues; it affects our relationships, as well as our performance at work and at home, often times making it difficult to enjoy life.
The intention of Yoga is to bring wellness in to your life physically, mentally and emotionally. It is a means of harmonizing the mind and the body, with various postures, called asanas, and breath techniques, called pranayama.
We first learn to build awareness in yoga by practicing the poses (Asana). The myriad instructions heard in class aren’t just designed to improve our Asana but to give our busy mind something to focus on and therefore keep us in the present moment. As we continue to hone moment-to-moment awareness of our body, breath, emotions, and thoughts in our yoga practice, we will bring that awareness to our daily life. When we are paying attention, we are more in touch with our thoughts and feelings as they arise in the moment, which is half the battle of resolving them.
The Asanas bring strength to areas of weakness, bring stability to unstable joints, creates flexibility in chronically tight muscles and improves your posture as well as your sense of balance. The myriad instructions heard in class gives the mind a place to focus, which brings you into the present moment. The present moment moves us away from the clutter of our thoughts and concerns.
The breathing techniques, Pranayama, also bring you into the present moment. The breath has the ability to harmonize the sympathetic and para-sympathic nervous system. It provides us with a tool to avoid our fight or flight response, which is our stress response. This stress response releases unwanted cortisol in the body, impairs the immune and cardiovascular system and our ability to think clearly. With regular Pranayama practice we can live with a greater sense of self-regulation.
Do I need to be flexible?
Through my years of teaching I often hear people say they need to be flexible to do yoga. This is far from the truth. It’s highly unlikely that many of us will look like the people on the cover of Yoga magazine, but does that matter? Our bodies are as different from one another as our personalities. What is right for one body isn’t right for someone else’s body. The reality is you need to be willing to start with where your body is and work gently and with awareness to open it to its fullest potential.
Is Yoga a religion?
Many people believe that yoga is a religion, which it is not. However, it is a science. My intention is to lead people to the tool, the thought, or the image that will bring them to a place of greater balance mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Every student is an individual that resonates differently. However, to find a place of balance within our lives requires observing what we think, what we feel, what we value and this self-awareness leads us to our core. For many, this process deepens their spiritual beliefs or leads them to a more meaningful connection with life. From this place of self-observation we can choose to design ourselves based on our beliefs and not on what a parent, a teacher, or society has impressed upon us. We can choose to respond to life and move away from the unhealthy beliefs that cause stress and the unfulfilling place of reacting to life. We can move into an inner state of relaxed awareness.