Is it time for you to start learning yoga?
Have you heard the call of yoga? Will you heed it? Yoga has become so popular these days that is might appear that everyone does yoga. There are now 300 million yoga practitioners worldwide. Wouldn’t you like to join in the fun?
But, I am not flexible enough to do yoga!
One of the greatest misconceptions about yoga is that you have to be flexible in order to do yoga. In fact, the way that yoga is represented on social media is almost guaranteed to put a novice off practising.
Yoga postures, called âsana-s, will help you to gain range of motion AKA flexibility. But that does not mean you need to be bendy to do yoga. Plenty of teachers and teacher trainers know this, but this information is slow to filter down to the general public because, well, Instagram.
Yoga will meet you where you are
Viniyoga is a system of yoga that meets you where you are. The word “viniyoga” is found in the third book of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. It means “the yoga adapts to the person, not the person to the yoga“. This insight is fundamental for the safe and long-term teaching and practice of yoga. First of all, it makes yoga safe. Secondly, it makes it interesting. And third, it makes it fun!
- Safe: viniyoga will not force you into any poses that may harm your soft tissue or joints. Period. Ahimsa, the principle of non-harming, appears in yoga philosophy long before âsana. For heaven’s sake, there is enough hurt in this world without bringing it into your yoga practice! Stretch, yes. Deepen, of course. But force, tear…nuh-uh. Not on my watch.
- Interesting: viniyoga works on a progressive system called “vinyasa krama“. Vinyasa krama is a pacing technique in which âsana is learned slowly and over time. This method keeps the practice fresh. Watching your own slow, safe, and steady development is a wonderful motivation to keep on practicing!
- Fun: Yoga feels fantastic. The yoga world forgets to tell you that. Yoga feels AMAZING. The ability to relax your muscles is a superpower! Most people do not realize how much tension they are holding, and totally unconsciously. Think about it – what other setting in your life gives you permission to relax? Who else says to you, in all sincerity, relax, do nothing? Just about no one. Like ahimsa, santosha is part of yoga philosophy. Santosha means “enjoyment”. Yoga practice should, and can, be delightful.
Yoga as movement therapy
Yoga is movement therapy for the body, breath, and mind.
Yoga is about more than making shapes. It is a kind of applied neuroscience. The body has numerous feedback loops and yoga stimulates a lot of them. Think about the pose here on the left – Natarajâsana/Cosmic Dancer.
This is an asymmetric balance. When executing this pose, your brain is not only calculating your position in 3-dimensional space, it is maintaining equilibrium with constant tiny adjustments, and all the while keeping a slow, steady breathing rhythm. That is a lot of mental energy, but it is all flowing in one single direction: keeping you in the pose.
Training the mind to focus on one thing at a time is gold in these days of high distraction. Social media is not free…it costs you your focus. I once read an interview with the CEO of Netflix in which they said that their only competition is people’s need to sleep. Whaaat??
To combat this, embrace low-technology solutions like slow movement, deep breathing, and meditation. Meditators are the true rebels of this world. When you meditate, you consume nothing (except oxygen), and you are anathema to capitalism. But, I digress.
Even if you’re not a rebel like I am, you can still understand the freedom that a calm, focused mind gives. No need to consume and distract. You become responsive and not reactive. All this brings more peace to your life. In peace, there is purpose. We all dream or dreamt of making the world a better place. But that’s hard to do if you’re constantly fire-fighting small conflicts. Become peaceful and purposeful. Do yoga.
I don’t do yoga. Yoga does me.
The longer you do yoga, the more you realize that it is, in fact, doing you. Yoga shines a light into you and upon you and, if you dare, this light may help you to clean out the dust and the cobwebs, allowing you to rebuild yourself into a saner, safer, more soulful human being.
I teach lots of private yoga, pranayama, meditation, and mindfulness classes every week at SHA Wellness Clinic. If you are inspired and want to learn, let me know on my contact page and I will get back to you. You can also sign up for my newsletter. If you fancy a taste of what I do, please head over to my Facebook page, Alteayoga with Rachel Rose. There is a whole series of yoga videos called “Yoga for Small Spaces”. I am positive that you will find something that will please you.
I know most of the teachers around here, so I am happy to help you find someone who fits your skill level and your needs.
Peace, love, and all the stars above,