I have done The Yoga for a few years, off and on. There is still a lot I don’t know or understand. There are a few things I have learned.
What I think of when I say “The Yoga.” But this isn’t yoga, sorry.
Nearly anyone can do yoga, if they really want to try. There’s seated or chair yoga, yoga for senior citizens, pregnant women and kids. I started when I was over 200 pounds, clumsy and terribly self conscious. I was fortunate enough to have a gentle and wonderful teacher who knew what she was doing, allowed us to modify or even skip poses and offered encouragement to everyone. She also told us stories about her cats.
Nobody cares how deep you can bend, how high you can lift your leg or even what you look like during class. No, that’s not absolutely true; some people are judgemental but they are the minority. Most aren’t there to compare themselves to others and those who are will not last very long unless they change their mindset. That’s usually those chicks up front who come to class in $100 yoga pants and makeup
Yoga is physical but it’s mostly mental. Consciously thinking about your breathing is more important than pushing your body harder. There is something incredible that happens when you finish the final pose. Your head is clear and your mind is charged and refreshed. It’s probably the extra oxygen. I’ve felt better after a walk but it doesn’t compare to the combination of calm and energy after yoga.
Yoga will change your body. You may be lucky enough to lose weight but you won’t get a yoga body like on Pinterest. Unless you are built that way. It’s not going to change your height, bone structure or body type. You will look and feel better, and be more toned over time but you won’t look like a ballerina if you have an Elmer Fudd body. I know this from bitter experience.
Speaking of body, yours may do something embarrassing. You might, you will pass gas. It may happen in a crowded class that is silent except for the sound of breathing. Because your body is feeling loose and there’s movement in your breath your body will feel relaxed and comfortable enough to let go a little. If it happens in that crowded class keep going. No one will speak up, class will go on, you will live and if it is really crowded it is possible that no one will know it was you. I’ve been in classes where someone passed gas, it was no big deal and as for who dealt it, I’m going to plead the Fifth. If you feel you are going to fart it’s best to let it go instead of holding it in, you will feel better. Holding it in restricts your moving, is uncomfortable and you may cramp. Also it’s a good idea to go to the bathroom before class. You don’t want to have to run in between rows of people on your way out of the room just because your bladder can’t wait. I know this from bitter experience.
You don’t have to become a Hindu or Buddhist to do yoga. There are different types of yoga and it does include philosophy and religion but it doesn’t demand you change your beliefs. Even atheists can do yoga. Most yoga classes and videos I’ve seen are about breath, movement and concentrating on how your body feels.
Some people will throw around the Sanskrit names for poses (asanas, as you’ll hear). Some people know a lot about chakras and other aspects. A lot don’t, if they are honest. You don’t have to know this unless you really want to delve into it. I just follow the teacher. Most will give the English names such as chair pose, child’s pose and lizard. You will recognize them after awhile and not think much about it.
One of my facebook friends posted a picture of a sign outside a yoga studio that said something along the lines of “we are our own heroes.” Much eye-rolling and snark followed. Getting up and going to yoga class when you really don’t feel it or would rather sleep in is not heroic. It is discipline. Ironically yoga humbles me rather than exalts me. I am aware of my strengths but of my limitations as well. If I start feeling smug I will lose my balance or feel my t-shirt slide up.