15 Dec Welcome to the Mat
A recent study by the Yoga Alliance stated that more than 19 million people have a regular yoga practice in the US. That is a lot of people, but at the same time, there are another 62 million American adults with a stated interest in yoga but do not currently practice.
Wow. The numbers are staggering.
We see yoga all around us. There are classes at local gyms, churches, community centers, and of course yoga studios. We find yoga clothes and equipment everywhere: from TJMaxx and the FiveBelow store, to Lululemon and REI. And haven’t most women adopted a pair of ‘yoga pants’ as their new favorite Saturday wardrobe? This is a multi-billion dollar industry.
What is holding everyone back?
“I’m not flexible.” I hear it almost every day. I think that one of the greatest myths about yoga is that it is something that requires us to be ‘bendy’. The media, especially social media, supports and even encourages that idea. We see images of young, lanky, flexible men and women twisting and bending themselves into perfection. One, 1 second shot is all it takes to project the ‘perfect’ looking pose, but that perfect pose is not what yoga is about, nor does it exist. It is certainly not what keeps me coming to my mat day after day. It’s really about the journey… how you connect with your body and mind as you find your way into the pose. So, we replace the word ‘perfection’ with ‘connection’.
People are interested in yoga for a lot of different reasons. Most often I hear people say they want a more gentle form of exercise, gain flexibility, or reduce stress. Often they have an injury that they want to rehabilitate and someone told them yoga would help (back pain? Yes, we can help with that). Yoga can do all those things… plus you will build strength, balance, and likely find a way to bring calm and clarity into your life. And if you’re open to it, you will discover that your yoga practice becomes so much more. It is more than exercise to those of us who fully embrace it.
As a teacher, I’m always excited when a new student comes in to my studio. Often, they are just getting started with their practice or have just decided to start. We begin slowly and do some very gentle stretches and strength building poses. We focus on our breath as we relax into the poses. Most importantly, we work together to discover what yoga is for that individual.
Some words of wisdom. DO make sure you are working with a qualified instructor. Not everyone who teaches a class has been fully trained. DO make sure you enjoy the teacher and class you attend. You should never feel depleted after yoga. You should walk out that door feeling calm, rested, grounded and with a renewed energy for whatever life sends your way. DO NOT allow an instructor to force you into something you find uncomfortable or straining (if the instructor does that, find another class).
And most of all, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Yoga is the union of mind and body. Live with within yourself and you will give yourself the greatest gift.
So, welcome to the mat. We’re so very glad you’re here.