Yoga starts by learning how to develop self-awareness and feel good about the physical body. It shapes and tones the body, helps with flexibility and the development of balance and strength, but it doesn’t end there. Additionally, it helps you become more focused in life and discover your inherent happiness. It slows down your thoughts, and quieting the mind helps the mind and body relax and be at peace.
But, for yoga to be more than a physical work out, you’ll need to skip the trendy yoga classes that are almost entirely focused on weight loss, or looking hot, and commit to a high-quality practice that encompasses more of yoga’s original teachings.
Conventional exercise trends such as Zumba, Tae Bo, Jazzercise, P90X and Insanity may come and go. And sadly, many styles of yoga (especially in the West) fall into this category. They promise a “quick fix” and eliminate the details and the depth of a thorough yoga practice. This “workout” style of yoga can be a popular entry point for students, however, it often leaves them unsatisfied (sometimes injured) and seeking more. Instead of seeking instant gratification and a hasty means to a temporary state of health, try a quality, “full spectrum” yoga for a full, meaningful and safe experience.
“Full-Spectrum” Yoga Practice:
Most serious students, at some point, need depth in their yoga practice to achieve optimal health and wellness along with long-lasting results. If your practice is purely physical, you’ll probably get bored and burn out quickly. Yoga that provides both insight and fitness is a great way to maintain a balanced practice with profound depth. This way you get fit and continuously learn and evolve while having an enjoyable experience. A properly taught and guided yoga practice is designed to provide deep insights on alignment along with techniques that bring your attention to the simplicity of the breath. After such a practice session you feel more grounded in both your body and your mind. It’s this experience of a mind-body connection that often produces those endorphins that makes you feel blissed-out and provide a real depth and richness in your practice.
A good yoga practice accompanied by proper guidance and instruction from an experienced, registered yoga teacher (ERYT) will help you to find (and apply) the value of its teachings in everyday life. Unlike a simple work-out program, yoga classes often have a specific focus or theme (intention) that is interwoven throughout an asana sequence. Themes can take a variety of purposes, such as balance/centering, calming/relaxing, breathing/meditation, healing/therapeutic, etc. When you practice with a vision and intention, it gives you insights and a purpose that goes well beyond the physical poses.
Remember that your physical body will go through many different evolutions over time as you grow with your yoga practice. Some asanas and techniques you will achieve with relative ease, others you won’t. Keep it fun, and they’ll be a great way to keep your vitality. A strong yoga practice teaches you to cherish life and the things that matter most to you.
There is no limit to the ways you can approach most asanas. The subtle nuances that you can observe will work to advance your practice. Through mindfulness and awareness, you’ll find revelations in your body that are fascinating and keep you longing for more. When you intellectualize the physical postures and your approach to them, you can rethink and rework them, attaining a healthy alignment.
Overall, everyone wants to be healthy, fit and at their best. Working out using conventional methods like those typically found in a gym or fitness center is not a bad thing if done intelligently. In fact, yoga can be a great workout in itself or can be used to supplement and amplify other physical forms of exercise. So, it would be fine to say that fitness is an important part of most modern yoga systems, but it is only one part of a very dynamic process. Yoga practice can become an awesome way to align all the facets of your life so that you feel healthy and whole, while simultaneously exploring and exercising self-awareness and self-control. Yoga enables us to transcend our lower instincts and harness the true power of transformation.
Rae Indigo is ERYT 500