Written by Susan Cunningham, BSN
Have you ever concentrated so completely on a project that you’re not sure how you finished it, but you want to do it again; where your mind is so absorbed you aren’t thinking about the clock or the next thing on your to-do list? That's what yoga is like.
Do you know that feeling when you spontaneously take a big, full body stretch with a deep breath—sometimes you yawn too? That's what yoga is like.
Have you ever worked out an issue by sleeping on it? That's yoga too!
Have you ever seen someone put their foot behind their head? Impressive, acrobatic, agile and athletic but that is NOT the definition of yoga!
Yoga is a simple practice of focused concentration. Try this: take both of your arms straight out in front of you. As you breath in, move your arms slowly out to the sides to make the shape of a goal post. When you’re ready to breathe out, bring your arms back out in front. Repeat this movement 4 or 5 more times. Concentrate on movement and your breath. You've just done some yoga movement. Notice if you feel energized or relaxed or maybe both.
In a yoga class we move or position our bodies in simple ways. Often the breath is the main focus. This movement and breathing brings us into the present moment. The present moment is where the brain can be calm, and the body responds by letting tension go. So, set aside the idea that yoga is mysterious and requires special equipment. You may have seen photos of young skinny people wearing the latest workout clothes striking beautiful poses. Yes, how lovely! Yoga can be athletic if you want it to be, but in our classes at the Center for Integrative Medicine we teach yoga to people of interests and abilities. This mind/body connection (aka yoga) is available to you. Do you think of yourself as stiff, inflexible, maybe clumsy? The best place for you is in my yoga class!