Yoga…Is it for Every-Body?
I like the idea of starting practicing yoga, but I’m afraid I won’t be good.
I’m so stiff! it will not work for me.
I can’t do yoga, I need to lose some weight first.
This is suitable for calm people, I’m hyperactive. I would really like to be able to calm down a little.
I’ve seen what they do in yoga. It’s very difficult… I can’t do that.
I wish I could do it too, but I’m too old .. I have a health problem… I have arthritis, I can’t move properly… I don’t have time.
Does all this sound familiar? Is any of the above something you have thought or heard?
These are the phrases that state beliefs, which I hear overall, often from people when they ask me about my yoga practice, and I wonder what has gone so wrong.
Something must have gone very wrong regarding direction of information, images and/or messages , for one to believe that one needs to already possess specific qualifications to practice yoga.
The paradox is that actually all these reasons, not only are not reasons to prevent someone from doing yoga, but on the contrary, they are all reasons to start practicing yoga!
In order to decide whether yoga is a suitable exercise for them, one must first understand what yoga is, and then the answer is almost clear.
Yoga is definitely not an aggressive physical exercise, it is not Olympic gymnastics and it is not acrobatics, as it is often presented through images and videos. It is a deeply dynamic holistic exercise but in a completely different way.
I will try to give a more clear picture in a few words.
Let’s start with the etymology. In Sanskrit, Yoga means union or connection, in freer translation.
What does this mean, connection to what?
In a way we could say that it refers to the connection, the alignment of mind, body and soul, but it is also about our connection to something higher, that is achieved by this alignment, a higher consciousness that offers an experience of joy, bliss and fulfillment.
In most western countries, people mistakenly know yoga only as far as physical exercise is concerned.
But Yoga is much more.
It is a system of techniques that promote overall well-being, wellness, health and spirituality. It is a system of disciplined living so that one can achieve wholeness and awareness in the greater experience of life.
When we talk about yoga, about yoga practice more correctly, we refer to a body of exercises, physical, mental and spiritual, which promote the harmony of mind, soul and body. Such exercises are meditation, mindfulness, breathing exercises and asanas ( postures ), as well as the right action and attitude towards life, the practice of goodness, non-violence, etc.
That means that one can say, that one is practicing yoga, only by doing breathing exercises , or by meditating . On the contrary, someone who does physical exercise, without connecting consciously to the postures and breathing, is not practicing yoga, but is doing physical exercise inspired by yoga.
The physical practice of yoga is inextricably linked to the breath and mindful connection.
So we understand that anyone can start practicing yoga from the moment that he decides that he is ready to start a new experience, which usually brings great and always positive changes in life. But the path requires sacrifices and commitment if one really wants to see these changes.
Very often the obstacles that, consciously or unconsciously, many people see in starting such a practice have nothing to do with the exercise itself, but with the fact that they are not ready to commit, they are not ready to make changes in their lives or even . and that they want to avoid getting out of their comfort zone. Because it is true that a great deal of work is required, which is more mental than physical.
It is the effort needed to be able to know oneself, the effort needed to discipline oneself against the tendency to be stuck in an even miserable comfort zone, the effort needed to revise and change deep-rooted beliefs and habits.
So the first thing I would say that one should know, is that whatever starts on the yoga mat will follow in other aspects of one’s life.
Then what one must ask oneself, is not if one has the right body and the right physical powers to do this exercise, but if one is mentally and spiritually ready to allow a change in one’s life that will bring a significant improvement in all levels.
However, let’s refer exclusively to physical exercise, which is the one that creates the most doubts about the possibilities of everyone to start this practice.
It is no coincidence that the idea of yoga, while it has appeared over 5,000 years ago, continues to be a part of modern life and is spreading more than ever at an increasing rate. A main reason for this is that it is such a rich system that can be adapted in any case to the needs of each person and is part of evolution.
There are many yoga schools and different types adapted to even the greatest difficulties/challenges a person may face.
We hear that there is yoga for beginners, for advanced, for pregnant women, children, for the elderly, overweight, yoga for menopausal women, yoga even for people with autoimmune diseases, with musculoskeletal problems and injuries as well as, yoga for people with special needs and much, much more.
Are there different types of yoga? Yes and no.
All these programs select and adapt the yoga practice according to the needs of a particular group. But yoga, in its base and essence, is the same. What varies is the targeted choices from the vast range of postures, actions and other exercises.
Let’s not forget that meditation, mindfulness and yoga postures are now recommended and used successfully bringing great results, by doctors, physical therapists, psychotherapists and other physical and mental health specialists.
Many scientific studies and researches have been done on this topic. All have proved that the benefits of yoga practice are innumerable.
Strengthening, increasing flexibility, improving balance, improving sleep quality, helping to deal with physical and psychosomatic pain, helping to fight inflammation, improving heart function, dealing and improving anxiety and depression management, anti-aging, overall strengthening of the body’s defenses, boosting of the immune system, clarity of mind and increasing productivity and inspiration, empowering of self-confidence, are just some of them.
Nevertheless, you may have heard of some people who may have physically been strained or even injured doing yoga exercises. This is mainly because many people do exercise without being sufficiently connected consciously with their body, without being connected to their breath, to their inner being, without actually being mindfully in the here and now.
Attempting to do the yoga postures without these conditions can indeed prove dangerous.
Therefore we should emphasize the fact that it is necessary to always practice yoga with an experienced teacher, who is certified by a yoga school and not by some other physical exercise school. This is a certain necessity for someone who is now attempting to begin this exercise, but also later as well.
Very often some people practice by watching some videos on the Internet. In any case this cannot be considered safe, because the teacher is not present, therefore not able to diagnose difficulties and individual problems, but also to point out and correct mistakes that are likely to be dangerous. Even more the teacher is not present to inspire and support the practitioner in this path, when needed.
In any case, any negative result when practicing, is not a negative effect of yoga , but the result of a wrong choice out of ignorance.
It is very important to make it clear, that the practice of yoga is clearly suitable for everyone who practices by doing only what one’s body allows. As you understand, this requires high levels of self-awareness and an excellent relationship and connection with the body. It requires alignment of mind, soul and body. These are elements that will be cultivated over time with the systematic practice of yoga. That means that it is very important to choose a teacher that you trust, in order to practice safely and enjoy the benefits.
Yoga is a wonderful practice that will bring only positive changes to your life. What we can say with certainty is that you don’t have to be perfect to start practicing yoga. On the contrary, yoga is the path to “perfection”( Enlightenment) , to the best version of yourself as a whole.
Someone once said: yoga is not about being able to reach your toes but the journey until you arrive there. And this is a unique and very personal journey for each one of us, even if we can also do it in a group and share this experience.
In other words what you need to do, is to pay attention to listen to the deepest desire of your heart. Let it guide you. If it leads you to try practicing yoga then you are already ready. Start now!