I love the idea of doing yoga, if not for the super comfy, soft and slightly hippyish outfits, then at least for the hope of finally touching my toes. I have tried classes at my gym, and have always been slightly intimidated by the advanced “yogis” that make it look so easy. As I wobble and shake I begin to question my judgement. Would my time be better spent on the elliptical?
I think the answer is that a workout routine involving yoga a few times a week would be perfect. I have learned of a multitude of benefits achieved from doing yoga while interviewing Vanessa Mock, a seasoned yoga instructor, that I didn’t even know existed. I am definitely recommitting. Did you know that over time yoga can:
- reduce stress
- reduce anxiety
- improve sleep quality
- help you to cope with stressful situations
- change your eating habits for the better
- help you gravitate toward people that have more positive interactions
- better your posture, flexibility, and strength
Vanessa had me at the possibility of a “natural Ambien” and less sugar! I think part of my misgivings about yoga is really confusion. There are so many types of classes, and I have never understood what the best choice for my current ability level (that would be none) is.
Vanessa recommends trying different types of practices to see what you feel most comfortable with, and definitely at a beginner level. The most common types are:
Iyengar- This type of yoga is extremely therapeutic, and good if you have sustained an injury. It is done in a six-week series, and is regimented so that you understand the basic principles before moving forward in your practice.
Hatha Vinyasa-The most popular from of yoga. One movement flows into the next and the instructor has the freedom to design the class.
Bikram- A set series of poses in a very hot room. This style class is guided by an instructor, but the poses do not vary. It is easy to overextend oneself, and it is not recommended for pre or post menopausal women.
Ashtanga- An athletic, systematic practice that is self guided, and students improve on an individual basis. A set series is practiced, and traditionally a teacher will lead students once a week to asses their progress. Ashtanga is usually practiced over a long period of time.
Vanessa points out that it is important to find a teacher with a minimum of 250 hours training experience, and to practice at a yoga alliance facility. Her recommendation is to start with a few private or small group lessons (if financially feasible) just to get the basics down and to learn the limitations of your body. That way you will know how to modify poses in a larger class setting.
P.S. We all say it at the end of our yoga class, but do you know what Namaste means? The Yoga Journal explains: The gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a Divine spark within each of us that is located in the heart chakra. The gesture is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another. “Nama” means bow, “as” means I, and “te” means you. Therefore, Namaste literally means “bow me you” or “I bow to you.”