Yoga for YOU!

When I tell people I practice (and teach) yoga, I often hear someone tell me that they tried yoga once but quit because “I’m just not flexible.” I truly believe that yoga is for everyone. Yoga meets you where you are. Many people think that yoga is off the table for them because they can’t bend into the same shapes they see the instructor or other students achieve. Others come to yoga class and tough it out….trying to make their body go beyond its limits to get to what they believe yoga should look like. I’ve even had clients who have injured themselves in yoga classes by exceeding their body’s limits. This belief that we need to achieve a certain look, or go further into a posture is, in my opinion, simply not yoga. Yoga is not about looks, or doing what everyone else is doing. There is no way to be the “cool kid” in a yoga class. We are all cool, because we are all doing yoga.

Yoga is a strictly personal endeavor. True, the instructor guides us through a postures and gives cues to help with alignment and prevent injury. However, how your body and mind interact with a yoga posture is entirely individual. The best gauge of how successful yoga class is lies in how it makes you feel. Even when a posture is challenging, you should be able to feel stable and supported in it. Sometimes this requires realigning the feet or other body parts. Engaging the core muscles also helps with stability. Whatever posture you’re in, you should be able to find ease in your pose and breathe consciously and comfortably.

If you’ve taken yoga in the past and felt inflexible or uncomfortable, I encourage you to try again with an open mind. Try a virtual class at home, or step into a yoga studio, gym or rec center. Remember to make the class truly your own and approach the yoga postures the way your  body would want you to.

Whether you’re a new yoga student, or someone who’s been practicing for many years, ask yourself the following questions next time you take a yoga class.

“How does this make me feel?” and  “Can I find ease in this posture?”

If  you’re feeling discomfort or pain, The the next question should be, “What can be adjusted to alleviate the tension?” If you’re at an in person class, don’t be shy…ask the instructor for a variation. If you’re practicing with an online class or video, start by adjusting the feet (in a standing posture) and see what stance feels the best.

“What is my breath doing?” Breath tells us a lot. When we are stressed or anxious, our breath is rapid and our heartbeat is fast. When we are in pain, we may unconsciously hold our breath. Sometimes finding ease in a pose can be achieved by altering the breath. Breathing slowly lowers the heart rate and blood pressure. It helps the body release muscle tension that may be causing tension or interfering in relaxing into a yoga posture.

Listen to your body, but also listen to your heart and your mind. This can be the difference between an enjoyable experience (not just in yoga, but in general), and one of discomfort or pain.

If you’d like a personalized sequence or an individual session focused on your health goals, please drop me a line at lorie@wellnesswithlorie.com. You can also join me for one of my classes. See my offerings on my schedule page.

For more tips on pain relief and injury prevention through yoga and physical therapy, sign up for my newsletter here, or follow me on social media on FaceBook @yogalorie, Instagram Wellness_with_Lorie, or LinkedIn yogalorie

Walking The Labyrinth

Recently I made a small rock labyrinth in my backyard. Many people think of a labyrinth as a circular maze. However, a maze is like a puzzle that you have to solve. In a maze, you run into obstacles and have to turn around, or perhaps even start over. It can be quite frustrating. In contrast, a labyrinth has one clear path to the center. If you follow the path…..you find the center. This makes a labyrinth perfect for a walking meditation.

My labyrinth is made up of stones that sometimes get knocked aside (I suspect my dog has something to do with this), so sometimes while walking I place the stones back where they belong. Some days I walk to the center and directly back out, and other days I sit in meditation when I reach the center. Walking a labyrinth is about the journey, not the destination. You can walk quickly, slowly, pause during your walk, replace stones, coax your dog out of the path, etc. The only real rule is that you follow the path. How you follow it, is up to you.

When you walk a labyrinth it initially looks like you’re going straight to the center, then the path turns and takes you to the outer edges of the labyrinth. It turns again and you are on your way to the center again. It’s a lot like our path in life. Sometimes you’re heading towards what you feel is central and meaningful, then your path takes you another way. Then the path turns again towards the center. This is can be compared to the twists and turns we have in life. We may be headed somewhere, only to have to go in a different direction. Another turn or two brings us back to our purpose, our center.

Overall, adding the labyrinth as an option for meditation has been a wonderful way for me to start the day invigorated, or end the day with a sense of serenity. I highly recommend taking a little time to yourself outdoors focusing on breath, even if you only have a few minutes. This pause in your day may bring you to your center, or just allow you to follow your path in the direction you need to be.

If you’d like a personalized sequence or an individual session focused on your health goals, please drop me a line at lorie@wellnesswithlorie.com. You can also join me for one of my classes. See my offerings on my schedule page.

For more tips on pain relief and injury prevention through yoga and physical therapy, sign up for my newsletter here, or follow me on social media on FaceBook @yogalorie, Instagram Wellness_with_Lorie, or LinkedIn yogalorie