Yoga, the Plusses and Minuses

Sitting out arms
Get over yourself…
There are numerous excuses that people use to not do things that are possibly good for them. But how would you know unless you tried them?
I met a woman today, she was in full panic mode, sweating, elevated pulse, red in the face, wild eyes with dilated pupils and babbling. She had lost her keys, and her old dog was shut up in the car. I let her use my phone to ring a friend and gave her a glass of water. I asked her to breathe without heaving her shoulders. While we sat I asked her if she ever just sat and relaxed by breathing slowly.
She said, “ Ahhh you’re the yoga teacher. I have a friend who comes to you.”
I asked, ”Have you ever done any yoga?”
Her answer, “I’m too inflexible for yoga.” I said nothing.
So let me reply in full here….

Excuse number 1 for not doing yoga. I’m not flexible enough… Even on superficial examination this is just silly. Even if you know little about yoga you probably realize that there is most likely some stretching involved. No yoga teacher worth her/his salt is going to force a stiff person to over do a stretch. Extending your range of motion by stretching is not only relaxing but improved your experience of life. Saying, “I don’t want to stretch because I have never tried it,” is just resistance to change, and change is inevitable. If you don’t change with the times you cease to be able to adapt and the degree to which you can adapt on any level is an indication of your health.

Excuse number 2 for not doing yoga, I’m sick… Look fair enough if you have a communicable disease like TB or a respiratory infection, or stomach bug, don’t come to class. Yoga has some amazing relaxing postures and healing practices. Breathing practices that can dry up the runny nose, cleansing practices that can rid you of sinus congestion, mobilizing torso movements that dislodge mucus, and quiet relaxations and nerve calming practices that help heal you fast. Even if you’re not feeling well you can stop and allow your body to heal. Ask your yoga teacher to suggest or show you some gentle healing practices. Illness is no excuse for not doing yoga, you can do it at home even in bed.

Excuse number 3 is I have a sore back. Spinal problems are not an inhibition to practicing yoga. You may not be able to do certain things, many postures, in fact but even with spinal injuries you can explore your range of movement and explore what helps, what helps you deal with the pain. You know as well as I do that certain yoga forms are not appropriate if you have an injured back, but there are certainly many yoga therapy techniques that can improve spinal function. A stiff back means your back is weak and it may be that you can spend your yoga practices improving your strength and that will in time lead to improved flexibility and function. Ask you teacher to suggest some yoga therapy individuated for you.

Excuse number 4 I haven’t time to do yoga. Humph this is the least valid excuse of all. Yes you may not be able to get to a class, but you can find time to little yogarette practices during the day. A long conscious breath at the traffic lights, a quiet mental rest sitting on the bus, Passive stretches in bed before rising and before going to sleep. Supine hip openings while sifting through your thoughts. Standing shoulder and upper body stretches and mobilisations after sitting at your computer for longish stretches. I’m not suggesting you become super efficient and fill every busy moment with more business, I am suggesting you are aware that some moments lend themselves relaxing interactions with yourself.

Excuse number 5, I’d be bored. I did meet a youngish woman the other day, who said to me.”I could never do yoga, I’d be soooo bored.” Well maybe, you would maybe you wouldn’t, how would you know unless you tried it. It’s a lame excuse. Everyone learns differently, some people learn by watching, others by listening, others by being shown and adjusted physically, every yoga teacher and yoga form is different, there will be someone who can evoke your interest in yourself.

Excuse number 6, it’s against my religion. Phew… I’ve said it before now I say it again, yoga is NOT a religion, though some individuals with inclinations that way may treat is as such. Yoga is a practice to teach you to be more human, not more spiritual. It enables you to be responsive to life rather than reactive. It enables you to meet and realize your full potential as a man or woman. Yoga advocates no one God or sect, it embraces and helps atheists and the religiously inclined. It is an electromagnetic practice that causes you to be balanced and aware, more real if you like.

Excuse number 7, I’m too old to do yoga. Yoga means to join opposites, to yoke together the sun and moon, to focus on something is to concentrate, the union of the concentrator and the object of focus, a type of union. You’ve been doing yoga all your life. As you get older the Ayurvedic physicians say you get drier and unsteady and some sort of relaxation, concentration and joint mobilisation is highly recommended, yoga perhaps. It’s never too late to become more aware and comfortable in your own body.

‘Nuf with the negative and think up all the reasons it’s good to practice yoga… improves your posture
2. You feel calm and relaxed after yoga
3. Your body has less pain during the day
4. You project less of your stuff onto the world, you observe what is as it is
5.You eat well so your body is healthier, if it’s not well nourished you are aware of that even more so during your yoga practice
6. You love more easily, because you have more gratitude in your heart
7. You know your self and can be alone without needs or agitation
8. Your balance is better in every way
9. You can manage stress, lower blood pressure and increase your whole body’s circulation
10. Yoga improves dancing/walking/other exercise forms
11. Your organs are massaged and any adhesions prevented or alleviated
12. You are stronger, with stronger bones
13. Yoga helps to prevent rapid aging
14. You become more aware and responsive to your body’s changes
15. You have an improved attitude to life and others
16. Your concentration is enhanced
17. Your cholesterol levels can be managed
18. The slow, deliberate movement of yoga poses coupled with the gentle pressure exerted on your joints provides an excellent exercise to relieve arthritis symptoms.
19. The stress relief associated with yoga loosens muscles that tighten your joints.
20. Yoga practice can help control some of the side effects of menopause. For example bridge pose can help reduce hot flushes
21. Your body tends to have a more neutral pH. Acidity in your body predisposes you to cancer and other illnesses

That is not a definitive list perhaps you’d like to add more, suffice to say, yoga rocks…

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