Tell me about Yoga.

I know it’s physical concepts…balancing, stretching, and holding physical positions. It has a spiritual element as well. I’m thinking Yoga might be something I want to look into more. I don’t even know where to begin. There’s so many styles. Do you find Yoga benefits your state of mind and “being”? How so? How did you begin and where did you study it?

My gym offers classes as part of the membership. I have some back problem and have had it recommended for years now but have always resisted it. Well, I finally broke down a couple of months ago and started taking classes.

It takes a couple of weeks to get feeling comfortable with the new movements you are putting your body through. After a while you learn the moves, names, etc so you can relax and concentrate on your body. I like it. I feel great after class.

There is a little bit of ‘state of mind’ aspect to it but its not strongly pushed and is not distracting.

And yes, my back is better.

I started yoga after being an avid Pilates goer. I’ve tried the three different types offered at my gym-- power yoga, vinyasa, and hatha. The level of “spirituality” involved varies by instructor, but yoga is always about mindfulness. I highly recommend giving it a try for a least a few weeks. You will become aware of your mind and body in class, which for me translates into my day to day life. When I get stressed and sore from sitting up and studying for hours, I find myself adjusting my posture and breathing to overcome it. I may even indulge in a little downward dog to clear my mind before getting back to work.

What I like about yoga is the concentration and emphasis on each movement. It isn’t like any other exercise where you “just do it kinda like this”; you’re told exactly how to move, which muscles to use, how to breathe. That makes all the difference, you’ll find that it makes a certain movement or pose possible (when you thought you’d never be able to do that) and you also find that you learn about your own body and its possibilities.

It helps me relax my mind and body, but at the same time I am building strength (this will depend on the type of yoga). If you are into some other sport it can really help with that, as you get a really good stretch but you also get to know your body better and it helps prevent injury.

I have learned to use my core muscles for certain movements, instead of my back muscles. I have great ways to relax and focus inwards. I’m stretchier and stronger (I can push myself up, for me a big whoop!) Some friends of mine do as an extra to help their running, my mum completely got rid of her migraines by learning to specifically relax muscles.

The downside can be woo. I’ve started a thread on this board because yoga instructors always tell women not to do upside down poses when on their period, which is nonsense. Then I’ve had yoga instructors who insist on doing lots of “ooohm” and tell us every lesson that it is important to say “oohm” because people with clairvoyant hearing know that this is the sound of all the particles in the universe resonating together. So I always go allowing for some degree of crazy woo, but I can’t deal with too much. Yoga is about concentrating on yourself and your practice, and I can’t do that if someone is saying stupid shit out loud. So you might have to shop around before you find a class you’re happy with, depending on your tolerance for woo.

Here are some common types of yoga and the way I would describe the style. I might be wrong, so hopefully another poster will elaborate:

  • Hatha yoga: stretchy & relaxing, while still fairly active
  • Vinyasa yoga: flowing movements from pose to pose, usually quite active as well
  • Iyengar yoga: emphasis on breathing
  • Yoga nidra: relaxing, meditation and focus on the smallest movements, not very active
  • Bikram yoga: in a hot room, I think it’s a current fad
  • ashtanga yoga: I think it’s the same as power yoga, focus on strength, pretty active

They’ll all be really different depending on the instructor.

Even though you’ll be working with a qualified instructor it should still be said that you need to be really careful with your body and your limits. Despite its name, you could still seriously injure yourself doing yoga and it does happen. Don’t do anything that doesn’t feel right or that you don’t enjoy. I still don’t enjoy headstands and I don’t see the point, so I just skip those. They look awesome and I can do them, but it doesn’t feel like it’s does me any good.

I hope you do try yoga!

I found a yoga class at my local community college and it fit my schedule and being called “true beginner yoga” also fit my skill level.

We’ve since found a yoga studio very close to home and go there for classes a couple of times a week. It is mostly vinyasa style yoga.

I have found it very meditative but also physically challenging. I enjoy it very much. I hope you give a try.

Its comprehensive, *Asht *means eight in Sanskrit\Hindi . *Ang *means Parts. Ashtang yoga comprises of Eight parts:

Yama - moral codes
Niyama - self-purification and study
Asana - posture
Pranayama - breath control
Pratyahara - withdrawing of the mind from the senses
Dharana - concentration
Dhyana - deep meditation
Samadhi - Union with the object of meditation

Perhaps you are referring to only the Asanas.
Pranayam will be very useful imo. My father is a Yoga teacher. In his yoga class of around 45mins to 1hr , he first does Asanas, then Pranayams, mostly these 4 - Anulom - Vilom, Bhramri, Kapaalbhaati, Bhastrika followed by meditation(usually Sakshi). You can find videos of these Pranayams on youtube. ayam is to extend, pran is breath or life force. So, pranayan means to extend the life force. Sakshi Meditation - sakshi means Witness. To believe that you are neither your body nor your thoughts, you are a higher entity, a soul, a witness. Method is that you just keep watching your thoughts without flowing with them till the times they (the thoughts) vanish, then live\experience those moments and experience the joy.

One thing I’ve learned is that every class, school, studio, and instructor is different, along with whatever the student gets out of it. So generalize cautiously.

Does yoga really help with the mind-body thing? I think if you’re inclined to believe in the importance of mind-body unity, then you will likely perceive a benefit to the practice. If you are like me, kind of ambivalent or agnostic about the whole thing, then it’s not as clear-cut what you will take away from it.

I think it has improved my posture and coordination. I’ll do something like bend down to pick something off the floor, and my movement will feel “yoga-like”, for lack of a better word. People have remarked about positive changes in my mien, and I don’t think they’re making shit up. However, I am still quite clutzy. Those areas in my repertoire that are amenable to change have improved, while those that aren’t, haven’t. I suppose you can say yoga has given me the “wisdom to know the difference” part of the serenity prayer. I think this has been helpful to me.

Most people I see that get into it are able to progress fairly quickly and seem to enjoy it a lot. Personally, I started off “meh”, went through a long phase of absolutely hating it, and now I tolerate it like one tolerates taking vitamins. It’s a healthy habit engrained in me, but it’s not exactly fun.

One thing I appreciate about yoga is that it democratizes exercise. We do a lot of sweating and grunting in my class, but it’s not so strenuous that you have to be uber athletic to do. And it does energize me afterward. I could see myself doing a full-strength workout after my yoga class, if I was so inclined.

My sister loves it. It and a little bit of therapy has absolutely changed her very driven and tense persona. She’s a tall, thin and athletic 30ish woman and I am a short, squat and lazy woman in her 40’s. But I’ve always been interested in trying it, so I was asking her about it.

Me: So like, are there people as fat as I am in the classes?
Her: There are people twice your size.
Me: Well, do people ever fall over? (I have weak knees and ankles and was wondering if it would help.)
Her: People fall over all the time. I’ve fallen plenty of times.
Me: Omg! Do people laugh?
Her: No! It’s part of the process. (Yoga has also made her much more graceful–we share the clutziness gene.)
And like some of the other posters said, there are tons of different styles and studios. If you don’t like the first one you try, try another one.

I like yoga. I haven’t ever taken a class, just used DVDs at home, but I find it quite fun and a decent workout. I will warn you though that if you do it at home the second you plug in the DVD every dog, cat, and baby in your house will want to be underneath you the entire time.

I’ve been taking a yoga class for the past few months. I’m still at the stage where I’m too worried if I’m doing it right to focus my mind much. But, it is making me more flexible. This leads to me being more active.

Its pretty good. Lots of different flavors and types. Even the “stir it up” kind is good. The new Greek kind is way too expensive though.

I would have gone with “He’s short, wise and has the Shwartz”

I’ve done Iyengar yoga in the past. It focuses on holding positions for a long time, often using props to help.

It opened my eyes to ways the body can be moved and conditioned that every other phys-ed thing I’d ever done completely ignored. Often it felt a little like a visit to a chiropractor, with the instructor picking on our uneven leg lengths and bent spines and tight chests. It amazed me how difficult and painful very small movements could be. I often got faint while holding a pose.

Having said that, it was interesting and made me feel proud of myself, and like I’d really done something good for my body. I’ll go back to it when my life allows.

About the spiritual aspect: instructor’s words were “you cannot even control your body yet, forget about your mind.”

From a purely physical point of view I think yoga is the best way to exercise. If you are training for the Olympics or something, yeah, probably take your coaches’ advice first.

As for ‘spirituality’- I want to say you could do it purely for the exercise and ignore the rest, but I think it would be hard to not at least brush up against yoga philosophy. People might take it in different ways. You can take a closer look or not worry about it. People don’t seem to push it- class is always more like going to a gym than a monastery, but they have figured out that your mind has to be onboard to go through these routines.

You are best off doing it for yourself. Look at too much talk and you might start to think there is woo involved, and there isn’t really.

I really like this aspect. It’s also why we did lots of yoga based work at drama school: you’re working at unpicking your ingrained muscle memory. You don’t even know all the muscles you have clenched all the time, or that are working in an unproductive way.

In early yoga nidra classes, when working on relaxing facial muscles, some people fall asleep the minute they manage to relax those muscles. This is because every waking moment your body is clenching facial muscles, and relaxing them is associated with sleep. So you need to train control over those muscles, teaching your body how to relax. The same goes for any other muscle in your body, and this is why it can really help people with migraines, or to prevent injury in other sports. My SO and my mum used clench muscles that would end up causing them a migraine, and they just needed to re-train their bodies.

At drama school we would study the way people in the street walk. When you start looking, you notice that most people are entirely crooked! You wonder they even manage to stay upright. Everyone should do a bit of yoga, straighten out that spine, feel your feet on the earth, pay attention to the muscles you use in each small movement. :slight_smile: