A new student in my class recently asked me how yoga has changed my life. The question caught me off guard, not because I didn’t know the answer, but because I wasn’t sure how to convey the magnitude of positive changes I’ve experienced and enacted in my life as a result of my yoga practice.
How could I convey that yoga has transformed my physical and mental landscape from tight and fearful to open and strong without sounding like a crazy person? Can I tell her that it has saved my life twice — first from high school bullies and later from a tired life in an office — without sounding a tad melodramatic? Should I just tell her I can now touch my toes and it helped me heal fully from a bad shoulder separation, or should I go deeper and explain that it gave me the tools to stay in perspective during a miserable divorce?
The truth is that yoga will change your life in any and all of the ways you need. Whether you want to lose weight, manage stress, build muscle, regain flexibility, breathe easier, feel happier or make decisions more confidently, yoga has a long-proven track record of initiating radical transformation. Most important: yoga teaches us to be participants, not bystanders, in our own evolution.
REASONS TO TRY YOGA
Here are just a few reasons why you should try yoga:
Increased flexibility: Myth number one about yoga is that it’s for flexible people. Those of us who ski, bike, run, belay or sit all day need the therapeutic application of lengthening muscles and the spine to protect our bodies from harm on the hill. There are many great ways to modify and use props that will serve you at first while you’re waiting for those fingers to touch the ground.
Yoga is affordable and accessible: Yoga requires no expensive equipment and can be done almost anywhere. Some breathable, comfortable clothing you can move in is all you need to start. Yoga props are always provided in public classes, and once you have a routine you can practice at home, at work or even at the airport.
Stress reduction: Yoga’s impact on stress is no joke. While conscious breathing alone will go a long way towards rewiring your nervous system, the regular practice of carving out space for yourself and observing your reactions in sometimes challenging situations can profoundly affect how you approach your relationships, work and home life.
Building community: Many lasting friendships are formed in the yoga studio at The Vail Vitality Center. We encourage social interaction, and let’s face it, when you’re lying on the floor, a sweaty mess, there’s nothing left to do but laugh together.
Navigating obstacles: Those scary-looking poses you’ve seen people do that have probably kept you out of yoga class until now? We don’t try them because it’s spiritually important to get your leg behind your head. In fact, nobody cares if you can ever stand on your head. We try them because the practice of self-negotiation in a challenging situation is a skill that’s transferable off the yoga mat.
TAKE THE FIRST STEP
Convinced of the benefits but scared to take the first step? Please join me for Yoga 101, a four-week series on Wednesdays from 3 to 4:15 p.m., Jan. 22 through Feb. 12. Dress comfortably and try not to eat a large meal immediately before class. We will cover yoga philosophy, safe alignment and modifications of primary poses, sustainable breath and use of props. Whether you’re brand new to yoga or looking to deepen your practice, this course will leave you feeling confident attending a group class and building a safe home practice. To learn more, please call 970-476-7960.
Julia Clarke teaches vinyasa flow yoga and anjali restorative yoga. She is the yoga director at the Vail Vitality Center and a certified ayurvedic wellness consultant. Visit www.vailvitality center.com for more information.
The truth is that yoga will change your life in any and all of the ways you need. Whether you want to lose weight, manage stress, build muscle, regain flexibility, breathe easier, feel happier or make decisions more confidently, yoga has a long-proven track record of initiating radical transformation.