By Aimee Hodges
To define Yoga would be like trying to define happiness, different for everyone but containing a common goal. A common definition is a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation and the adoption of specific bodily postures is widely practiced for health and relaxation.
To expand on that definition imagine if you would the idea of moving or taking any action thoughtfully, intentionally and with breath is very universal in all activity. Joe Alexander RYT defines learning to practice yoga in an uncomfortable pose on a rubber mat wearing little clothes while balancing on one foot- as calmly as possible, not giving up but focusing, overcoming self-doubt about if you can or can’t hold the pose or that is hurts or that it is not worth the effort is not much different than the fundamental principles as the guys in Iraq armed with M16’s looking for terrorists, overcoming the fear of self-doubt about if they can or can’t stay in position, if they are in pain or it’s not worth the effort.
It takes the same principals to succeed, to stick with it, to advance and grow and then reassess and try again. You train and train and train to be able to stay calm in those situations you may walk into, physically or emotionally. “Yoga class” just seeps these basic principles into a person slowly bit by bit and the drills are basic body stretching into shapes which most all skeletal structures should be able to accomplish, minus the debilitation that we have allowed ourselves to accrue from scar tissue (physical or mental) or inactivity (physical or mental) or over-activity (not limber because overdeveloped muscularly) or just basic inattention usually. Repeated patterning of the yoga movements can help diminish the debilitation and restore a fuller range of motion and level of functional health.
If you can breathe deeply and collectedly and manage your most challenging yoga pose in a hot crowded room or even alone when you don’t think you can and you are tired and all you want to do is quit, this is the seed principal that allows a person to persist and do anything: run into a burning building to save a child, to work 3 jobs to support a family, to give of themselves more than they think they can give. That is where growth happens. That is real yoga! In other words yoga can be practiced in all forms of everyday life. It is a mindful act that you try and try again. We all can benefit from slowing down and focusing all what is difficult but so worth the end result.
Some easy beginner poses to try:
Cow Pose: A great way to warm up the spine. Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position, making sure your knees are set directly below your hips and your wrists, shoulders and elbows are in line. Center your head in a neutral position, eyes looking at the floor. As you inhale lift your sitting bones and chest toward the ceiling allowing your belly to sink toward the floor. Lift your head to look straight forward. Exhale coming back to neutral or tabletop position on your hands and knees and can be repeated 10 to 20 times. This pose is often paired with Cat Pose.
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