“I lost eight pounds,” a student who has been practicing yoga for a month said. “And this is the only thing in my life that I’m doing differently.”

Another student recently wrote say, “This has been a challenging year for me. It's kinda fascinating to see how my reactions to rolling with the punches have been so different than they might have been in the past. Yoga has played a big part in helping me breathe and accept what comes.”

Yet another mentioned dropping her anxiety medications since taking up yoga. 

Yoga Can Help

People who are persistent and consistent with their yoga practice mention sleeping better, clothing fitting better, and feelings of improved strength and flexibility. More than a few remark with a smile on their face that they can now put shoes on with more ease, which seems a simple thing unless you find yourself needing to sit down and even then struggling to put on a pair. 

From teens working to improve spinal health in the aftermath of discovering scoliosis to adults entering into their 60’s wanting to remain mobile and vibrant, yoga does offer something for every body. People recount their life before yoga, body aches and pains, which have lessened or vanished with their new and ongoing yoga practice. They feel changes in their bodies and in their minds, coming to understand how an awareness of breath can be a tool for working with stress, anxiety and depression.

From my perspective at the front of the class I am witness to these changes occurring in people’s bodies. I am on this journey with them, instructing the safe entry into a yoga posture, guiding their alignment and actions, assisting them to realize these strange and strengthening shapes. In the beginning they do struggle with much of what we do. They are weak in some areas, lack body awareness, or struggle to endure a whole class. But over time things happen … amazing things.

There is a cliche in the yoga world that goes a little like this: “But I’m not flexible enough to do yoga.” We laugh and roll our eyes a little at this reasoning for not doing yoga. It would be just as easy to say “I’m too dirty to take a shower.” But the sentiment is less about one’s physical preparedness for the practice and more a revelation of self-confidence. As if one must be proficient in the physical postures and feats perceived to be yoga before taking on the practice.

One thing that is remarkable about yoga is the permission to proceed through the practice at your own pace. Unlike most forms of fitness the class does not pause from beginning to end. They flow — we call it flow due to the fact that we transition from posture to posture, matching breath to movement — from beginning to the final resting posture. There are no official breaks in a class for walking around and taking a drink, not like in your gym’s group fitness classes. But you are given permission to take Child’s Pose (an active resting yoga pose) whenever you need. Even if you spend most of the class in that pose you will have had a successful yoga practice so long as you breathe with awareness and remain present.

Students who do work toward commitment and consistency see changes. Over time their modified planks (with knees down) evolve into strong, straight lines of power. Downward Facing Dog (that upside down “V” pose) finds and energy and alignment, the struggle to maintain it vanishing. Not only does balance improve but so too does the ability to balance on just one’s arms appear. So long as the student is willing to fall and willing to laugh at their renewed sense of fun and adventure anything becomes possible.

But, as I pointed out earlier, their is but one hurdle to cross first and that is the one of self-confidence. Unfortunately, yoga has been marketed as a luxury pastime reserved for the young and fit. Magazine covers depict youth, grace and power on their covers with their yoga models in beautiful if intimidating contortions. Yet, while these postures are possibilities they are far from the purpose of yoga. 

Yoga is a method for achieving physical and mental wellbeing, a tool for improving mobility and developing inner-calm. In a culture that celebrates Netflix binges, where stress is permeating all walks of life, and health is on a national decline, we need something like yoga in our lives. Yoga perhaps as much as, if not more so than many forms of fitness due to its overall ability to address the many dysfunctions we face in modern life.  

To summarize: No, yoga isn’t easy. Yes, yoga’s a little weird. No, you don’t need to be flexible to do it. Yes, you will sweat (possibly a lot). No, you don’t need to know how to dot yoga before you start. Yes, anyone can do it!

Curious about trying yoga? Yoga Club DFW, your local Cedar Hill/Duncanville Yoga Studio, has teamed with Groupon to bring you an offer that we hope is too good to resist. Pick up your first 30 Days of Unlimited Yoga for just $19! If in those first 30 days you see changes that you like then you’re invited to keep coming back for more at some of the lowest studio rates in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex.

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