Yoga can be a therapeutic alternative to traditional medicine as well as offer both short and long-term benefits that keep you coming back to your mat. But getting to the mat the first time is often the hardest challenge to overcome.
If this sounds familiar, your mind has likely already determined that your body is not designed to be arranged into a pretzel nor shaped to fulfill the image of yoga you've seen depicted in the media. Yet you keep hearing how beneficial yoga can be, especially as a method to slow down the aging process.
Our anatomy and physiology is incredibly dynamic and complex. Yoga can certainly be practiced at any age, but with age comes common medical conditions - inflammation, soft tissue changes, osteoarthritis, joint replacement, and osteoporosis, to name a few - all of which are not foreign to me as I near 44. With age, stiffness can set in as the water content of our discs naturally diminishes, decreasing joint mobility and even affecting balance. While it wasn’t any of these things that brought me to yoga 20 years ago, it is all of these ailments that keep me practicing daily. Now, as a yoga teacher, I pride my instruction on offering clarity surrounding how muscles relate to movement, and tailor my classes for all ages of students - both new to yoga and experienced. My intention is to facilitate safety in order to avoid injuries - no matter if you are a younger or aging athlete, or middle-aged or older adult. When inquiring middle-aged and older students reach out to me, they often tell me they are looking to regain their flexibility, find a solution for persistent physical discomfort and deal with stress. My response is always. “I get it, and you’ve come to the right place!”
Yoga is not only a practice that will create space and openness in between your muscles and joints, it will also create space and openness within your emotional well-being. As beginner students begin practicing regularly with me, one of the first things they report back is how much they enjoy the mental “time-out” as space to focus on their body and breath.
Perhaps like no other movement experience, Yoga offers inner space for the brain by creating gaps in the stream of thinking. Without these gaps, our thinking becomes repetitive, uninspired and devoid of creative spark. And what can be more uninspiring than thinking that your body is not designed to practice the simple movements and breath work that yoga offers? Yoga is for EVERY BODY! Negative thinking, along with the lack of awareness on our mental health and emotional well-being can be the root of much of the stress we hold in our bodies, including our tissues - this same negative thinking will prevent you from ever realizing the lifelong benefits of yoga.
We all live through struggles and hardships and Yoga offers a way to release the emotions we protect through avoidance, through remaining stoic and living with a “tough as nails” attitude. Even beyond its benefits for mindful movement and breath, Yoga offers space for expression of fear, anxiety, worry and sadness. In time, through practice, we begin to view our struggles and hardships as our gifts - and our internal landscape begins to change for the better, no matter our age. When my students allow for it, they begin to notice differences in how they handle stress - taking deeper inhales, longer exhales, breathing through tense situations and even pausing before reacting. The movements they were avoiding because they had convinced themselves their body wasn’t designed for it, along with realizing they could feel better simply by paying attention to their breath, becomes what heals their attitude about yoga’s lifelong benefits and their ability to actually do it.
As my students begin to make these critical connections, I smile, and continue to share, as authentically as possible, how yoga has not only changed the way I move and think, but how I live. Life doesn’t get easier, our bodies continue to age and breakdown and life makes stress always abundant and available, but Yoga can be a sustainable whole-body system of connection, that when practiced slowly, simply and gently, will keep you coming back to your mat over and over again. Yoga will always leave you in a better space than before you started. If you have been considering starting a yoga practice, I am committed to helping you realize all of its benefits, both short and long-term, in a setting designed with the beginner in mind - small-sized and personalized classes that focus on moving slowly, simply and mindfully so that your first experience practicing yoga is nothing like you thought it would be.
My schedule has expanded for Winter 2020 and is flooded with many options for beginner-level students and those with more experience. If you are brand new to yoga you might consider starting with one of the following weekly classes:
Ease into Yoga Wednesdays, 5:15 - 6:15 pm Thursdays, 11 am - 12 Noon
A class geared for the true beginner looking to keep things simple. If you have limited mobility, are working with an injury, or just may not have mindfully moved your body in a while, here's a safe and welcoming place to begin. Take this class to feel capable and confident in your body.
Meditative Chair Yoga Tuesdays, 11 am - 12 Noon
A class for older beginners new to yoga and those more experienced struggling with balance and arthritis. A perfect staring point for those who find it challenging to get down to and up from the floor, anyone struggling with weight, recovering from illness, surgery or personal challenge. A wonderful class for someone looking for low-impact activity, who think they have no flexibility.
Restorative Yoga Nidra
Mondays, 7:30 - 8:30 pm
Use this class to experience a deep state of relaxation and often times altered consciousness - so yummy at the end of a busy day. Promotes deep and restful sleep so you wake up the next morning energized. A sweet class to begin to understand the mechanics of better breath and its' healing capabilities.
Visit my website for full descriptions of all of my Weekly Classes, including those not listed here, as well my 5 Class Series which offer the same quality of instruction for those unable to commit to attending weekly.
Yes you can, do yoga with joy!