Living with Vitality column: Join the yoga nation by finding a yoga for beginners class
Yoga is everywhere these days; from Penny and Sheldon practicing yoga on the TV show “The Big Bang Theory” to Oprah and Deepak Chopra offering free and easy meditation on the Internet. Many celebrities claim yoga is key to maintaining their physiques, while Olympic and professional athletes use yoga to guard against injury and create a competitive edge.
Impressive endorsements and health benefits aside, why do many people choose not to do yoga? Recently, I was at the gym chatting with a gentleman who said he wouldn’t come to yoga because he wasn’t flexible enough. His comment struck me as funny. I mentioned that he wasn’t gaining any flexibility by not doing yoga and encouraged him to come to a class. Long story short, he didn’t. But with that conversation I started pondering other excuses people might consider as barriers to yoga.
The “life is too busy” excuse. Setting aside precious time to do yoga might seem improbable when juggling work, family and other commitments. I find that yoga makes me more clear-headed and productive, and that my to-do lists don’t seem as overwhelming if I have practiced yoga.
The “yoga can be weird” excuse. Yep, there are many different styles of yoga, and not all are going to be your cup of tea. This is why a basic introduction to yoga with experienced teachers will give you a good foundation to move forward and safely explore the bigger yoga landscape.
The “I can’t give up my workout to do yoga” excuse. I totally get that rationale. Consider that a little yoga will enhance your performance in other activities. With proper stretching and strengthening you can increase your range of motion and your speed. Studies show that incorporating attention to breath with movement increases endurance in runners by twice the distance.
The “I don’t know enough to come to a class” excuse. It can feel uncomfortable to insert yourself into a situation where you really don’t know what’s going on. This is natural and normal. Please realize that in a well-thought-out class you will experience the repetition of poses, movements and terminology to create a solid sense of familiarity within the framework of your very first experience. My goal for any beginner is that they leave class feeling encouraged and physically better than when they walked into class so that they want to come back.
The “yoga is too expensive” excuse. Yes, often yoga is an expense. But I promise it is less expensive (and more fun) than being on medication, going to the doctor and spending time in the hospital. According to health insurance statistics, yogis and meditators were hospitalized much less often than non-yogis: 87 percent less for heart disease; 55 percent less for tumors; and 30 percent less for infectious diseases. Many gyms and studios in the valley also offer free community yoga, especially during the summer months.
The “yoga is for the young and the beautiful” excuse. It may seem that way, but honestly yoga is for anyone and everybody. And, while you may or may not lose weight doing yoga, you will be more beautiful from engaging in the practice. Healthier people are simply more radiant and beautiful.
I hope this list will nudge any non-yogi into trying yoga, not because so many other people are doing it, but because you will truly love how you will feel. See for yourself at the Vail Vitality Center’s Yoga 101 series, beginning Sept. 10 from 4 to 5:15 p.m. This four-week course, which I’m teaching along with Julia Clarke, is designed to help you begin a regular practice. Cost is $80 for Vail Vitality Center members and $100 for non-members. Additional class dates are: Sept. 17 and 24, and Oct. 1. To register, call 970-476-7960.
Tracy Long is an experienced vinyasa-based yoga teacher. She started practicing in 2000 to overcome injury and flexibility issues and has been teaching since 2008. Since 2012, Long has been studying under Shannon Paige: a dedicated teacher of Shiva Rea’s Prana Flow. Long is pursuing her 500-hour accreditation with Paige. Visit http://www.vailvitalitycenter.com for more information on Vail Vitality Center yoga programs.