Yoga: More Than Being Bendy!
When many people think of yoga, images of young people in stretchy clothing twisting themselves into impossible shapes comes to mind. A feat that seems inaccessible for more than a few! While we’re barraged with images of perfection balanced precariously against a breathtaking background, Yoga is so much more than what Instagram shows us.
Yoga is for every body. Literally. All shapes, sizes, abilities, and ages. Yoga can be done from a desk, a chair… even from a hospital bed. If you have a body, you can do yoga. You don’t need yoga pants or a yoga mat. You don’t even need to be able to touch your toes. Yoga is about meeting yourself where you are. As is. No expectations and, especially, no judgement.
Yoga has many benefits beyond increasing flexibility, too. Different styles of yoga can provide different benefits. Styles like Vinyasa and Astanga yoga (often the styles practiced in hot yoga classes) increase strength and provide a cardiovascular workout. Restorative and gentle yoga can help relieve muscle tension, stress, and anxiety. Yoga for All/Diverse Abilities and Chair Yoga adapt to all bodies and abilities. Trauma Informed/Sensitive Yoga helps trauma survivors reconnect to their bodies, increase tolerance to triggers, and offers tools and practices to help resource out of triggered emotional states (this style of yoga should only be offered through a certified trauma-informed instructor in conjunction with traditional therapy). For the littlest yogis, yoga helps increase coordination and improves executive function. For those of us over 40, the body-weigh bearing and resistance yoga provides helps to keep bones strong and healthy.
Yoga can be offered and practiced in a deeply spiritual format. Some instructors use essential oils, crystals, and chanting. Other instructors take a more clinical approach. Still, others offer it as a fitness class. There is no wrong way to practice yoga.
Considering trying yoga, yourself? Do a little research into studios/instructors near you. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask about the instructor’s style and certifications. Most of all, don’t be afraid to try something new!
By Jasmine Hollingsworth
ERYT, RYT500, RCYT, Trauma-Informed Yoga Instructor