Monday, October 24, 2011

Yoga - Stretched and Unstressed

Over the last few years as yoga gained in popularity in the West, I have resisted.  I have awful balance, I'm not the typical body type of those I see practicing yoga or wearing yoga gear, and  I feel some unexplained moral aversion to Lululemon.  This September I found a free yoga class that practices twice a week about 10 minutes away from my house.  I didn't think I could pass up the opportunity to at least try it.  Now I have fallen in love with yoga.

The word "yoga" comes from the Sanskrit root "yuj", which means "to yoke" the spirit and physical body together.  From what I can tell, the yoga I am practicing is hatha yoga which traditionally is a holistic path that includes disciplines, physical postures, purification procedures, breathing, and meditation.  Yoga is really a way of life.  Our yoga instructor always talks about how there is a personal practice which takes place on the mat, then there is our interactions with those around us, and then the effects we have in the world on a global scale.

The many benefits of yoga can improve different aspects of life.  Physical benefits include improved overall health, flexibility, stamina, improved balance, increased strength, pain prevention, better breathing, improved digestion, and increased blood circulation.  Mental benefits include stress relief, mental calmness, body awareness, and increased self acceptance.  The list could go on and on.  Plus, yoga is for everyone be it men or women or from young children to the elderly.

This has been the first form of exercise I have ever actually looked forward to going to.  It has certainly made a difference in our lives.  I have begun feeling physical changes regarding strength and flexibility.  Brad has had amazing success with pain prevention for a shoulder injury the medical doctor wasn't able to do anything for.  What I really crave though before practicing yoga is the mental calmness.  I find that there are so few instances in our busy lives where we carve out time to be calm and introspective.

I think that Donna Farhi describes it beautifully in her book Yoga Mind, Body, and Spirit here:
But the slowness of this path is part of the healing.  It is part of finding one's place in the rhythm of life again.  This reunification with nature lies at the heart of the true healing power of yoga practice.  Through that practice we can become peaceful, we can experience ease with ourselves and others, and ultimately we can create a society that values such things.  Then as we advance in our yoga practice, we will realize that however far we go, we are always in the process of returning to this natural self.
Have you had any experience with yoga?  What form of exercise do you enjoy?


  1. Hey Grace,
    Since you told me about your love for yoga I've been doing it a bit on the wii fit. I (suprisingly) have great balance!! if I could just have a great weight loss!! LOL

  2. I have yet to try yoga, but I do enjoy running. I am taking a running class 3 times a week and find I NEED to run on weekends too to keep me energized. Never thought I would be a runner :)

  3. I love yoga, I think it is a great way to get fit and stay chilled :) Tara Stiles does some great yoga videos on-line on you tube. :)

  4. yep definitely a yogi! but i have hurt myself during practice (gotta really be careful how much i stretch...!). But yoga is the one physical exercise, like you said, that i look forward to. And, thankfully, after 7 years of practice I can now touch my toes and i have a bit more balance :)

    I love ""- 18$ a month for unlimited, excellent yoga classes (you can choose from style, level, instructors and time 5min to some classes that are 120min). You can get a free two week trial period to check it out too. :)