Ask the Trainer: Yoga better experienced than explained |

Ask the Trainer: Yoga better experienced than explained

Rod Connolly
VAIL CO, Colorado
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Yoga is often defined as the union of body, mind and spirit. But what does this really mean? Yoga is much better experienced than explained. I often describe yoga to someone in the valley with an analogy: “You know the feeling of complete stillness and oneness you experience as you connect with that perfect powder line? How you are completely alive, yet calm, as you swoop a superb section of singletrack? How everything else disappears and you are completely connected to the moment, your breath and nothing else? That is yoga.”

People who are more experienced in yoga might describe it as self-realization. But this too can feel a bit abstract for most people. It is not about being self conscious, just the opposite. It is allowing what you already possess to come forward. A wonderful synchronicity of movement, poses, breathing techniques and inspiration that helps us access our inner resources. This is where we are at our best and possess our true strength.

The interesting thing is that scientists and physiologists have learned that yoga practice does act on the same brain and body mechanisms as that perfect powder run or bike ride I described earlier. There is a coordination of electrical impulses, muscular movement and breath that creates this sense of euphoria in certain regions of the brain. This does several things. First, it truly allows us to let everything else go, to be totally engaged in the moment and not worrying about the future or dwelling in the past. It also is the stimulation signal for positive thought. It is not uncommon to leave a yoga class and a problem seems solvable. Often your perspective has shifted, allowing you to approach your interactions from a better place. This synchronization has also been shown to formulate new neurons (brain cells.) The interesting thing is these types of neurons are better equipped to handle future stress. You are not only alleviating stress during your practice, you are also preparing your brain to handle stress more effectively in the future. For the athletes out there, the physical benefits of yoga are phenomenal: Increased core strength and balance, improved range of motion and flexibility, elevated body control and agility. I often describe it as the most effective cross training you can do for most sports.

People often have a preconceived idea about what yoga is. It often seems that people who haven’t tried yoga have the strongest opinions about yoga. This is another component to the practice that I believe makes it such a powerful discipline. The increased ability to let go of preconceived expectations and just experience the now, void of judgement. When we become more adept at doing this, life opens us to us in a much different and interesting manner: must like that perfect powder line that lets us be at our best.

Dogma Athletica is offering a special 30 Days of Yoga event during November, which can be a difficult month outdoors for our active community. This event is a great opportunity to truly get immersed in yoga, find some transformational benefits from the practice and get your body in phenomenal shape. This program will be a challenge of doing a daily yoga practice for 30 consecutive days. Each week will have a theme. The program comes with a full 30-day clean eating nutritional program, menus and recipes. The program is designed to be comprehensive and supportive for both new and experienced yogis. This is the perfect way for you to create your own yoga expression.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

Rod Connolly is an exercise physiologist and owner of Dogma Athletica in Edwards. Have questions about yoga or other fitness related items? Email Rod Connolly at

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