What's Yoga All About?

03/30/2011 12:05


I walked into my first yoga class as a total ‘gym girl’. It would be good for me to add stretching to my ‘real’ workout routine, I reasoned.  I had no idea what to expect when I walked in the door – who were these people who taught yoga, would they chant?, would I have to?, would I get hurt?, would it be a waste of my time?...the list of questions in my mind was long!

Thirteen years later, I am a certified ‘yoga girl’. After that first class, I was hooked. I felt so good after class (and a bit sore the next day), that I couldn’t wait to go back. The people were friendly, the class was just right for me, and it was not a waste of my time…not even close. Even though I’d always been active (spinning, running, walking, etc), this was different. After practicing a while, I noticed I wasn’t tired at my desk in the afternoons, climbing stairs was much easier. Overall, I felt more in-tune with what I wanted and didn’t want, for example, I naturally ate better because that’s what made me feel better.

Yoga’s history is long. The first writings on yoga date back about 5000 years. That yoga was different from what we practice today. No, it wasn’t religious (a question I get a lot!). The first yoga was about meditation and getting quiet in your mind. Even in ancient times people were stressed, I guess! The only ‘posture’ was sitting. The physical practice as we know it today started later, the postures being used as a tool to settle your body (read: work out the kinks) before you settled into meditation and quiet time.

While there are many types of yoga classes today – from those that will make you sweat, to those that move slower and focus on relaxation – the purpose is still the same as it was in ancient times: work out the kinks, so you can have a clearer head. That’s the mind-body connection of yoga. It’s how I use yoga in my life and how I encourage my students to use it. Crazy yoga postures are not the goal, even though you will progress in your postures as your practice deepens. The goal is to use your yoga as a tool to help you with the all the other stuff in your life. To help you get up easier in the morning, to have more patience with your family, friends and colleagues, to feel healthier in your body and mind. Those are the real ideals of a yoga practice and when you make that connection, you’ll keep practicing and moving. That’s what yoga is all about.