YOGA – IS IT FOR ME?

By: Courtney Gable, Yoga Instructor, Abington YMCA Health and Wellness Coach           Posted on: 07.14.2016

I can’t do Yoga because…”

It’s a phrase I often hear. That, or some variation of it. The mere idea of Yoga seems to stir in some people an immediate and visceral response of resistance. Rather than judging or dismissing such a reaction, there’s real value in looking closer at it.

Yoga is ‘hot’ right now (and I’m not just referring to the temperature of some of the studios). Yoga studios can be found in just about every town. Yoga classes are offered at gyms and health clubs, many schools have adopted elements of Yoga into their curricula, several sports teams have incorporated Yoga into their training regimens, and most rehabilitation/physical therapy programs include forms of Yoga as well. The term “Yoga” is ubiquitous, and locations for classes seem to be everywhere, but really – what IS it? And is it for you?

In order to decide if Yoga is for you, it helps to know what it is – and what it isn’t.

Here is what Yoga is not. In a nutshell, it is not a religious indoctrination, and it isn’t trying to brainwash you into some new age cult. It is not forcing you to be a pretzel (in fact, it is not forcing you to be anything!) It is not punishing to the mind, the body or the spirit, nor is it about selfishly navel-gazing. It is not about making you do something you don’t want to do, such as to sit still when what you really want to do is move, nor is it about stretching you into agony and injury.

The word “Yoga” means “union”. It is a union of body, mind, breath, and heart/spirit/soul (however you choose to identify your inner light or that ineffable part of us – that spark that is the manifestation of our consciousness). It is about uniting, about developing stronger connections between these seemingly disparate parts of the self.

Yoga is about creating softness and flexibility not only of the body, but of these other aspects of the human experience as well. This ‘union’ is an active process, through which you have an opportunity to learn about yourself (and others). Yoga is learning to gently invite your attention back to the present moment after you realize you’ve been going through your shopping list for the past 5 poses. It means learning to be present with your breath – even as your physical body might be uncomfortable. It is about learning to honor both what you can and what you cannot do, and about having compassion for yourself – and perhaps for others, too, as we all share these life experiences in some way or another.

While this might sound intellectual and lofty – it is actually gritty and experiential. The practice is active. It isn’t something done to you (like a massage), but instead is something you do.

The practice of Yoga is an inward exploration – of deepening your understanding of the union within yourself. What is happening with your body, mind, breath, and heart/spirit/soul? The practice is the practice because of YOU. You get out of the practice what you put in, wherever you are and with whatever you have – so the more kindness, compassion, softness, wonder, and love you put in… that’s the investment that is returned to you, with interest.

So, how do you know Yoga is for you?

  • If you want a stretch/alignment class
  • If you want a strength-based class
  • If you want a mindfulness class
  • If you want to learn how to be a more compassionate human being
  • If you want a place to focus on your health and wellbeing
  • If you want to learn how to increase your capacity for relaxation
  • If you want to learn about how to hold the space for both acceptance and transformation in your life
  • If you want to give yourself permission to sweat (or cry) your demons away

Yoga is a deeply personal journey that everyone practices in their own way – together. At its essence, Yoga is about becoming a more authentic you. So the invitation is here – the question is will you say yes?

Hope to see you soon.

Namaste.

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