In the previous article, I asked readers if they ever thought yoga was “just not for them,” acknowledging that certain types of yoga can be wrong for anyone. Here, I continue to describe common problems you may encounter and ways to make your yoga experience better. Since many studies show that yoga may counter the effects of aging and stress; prevent injuries and falls; and improve overall physical and mental well-being, these tips may be useful to you to take advantage of a yoga practice.With common sense, almost everyone can gain the benefits of calmness, flexibility, joint mobility, balance and strength. One of the differences between yoga and other forms of exercise is the benefit of inner calm and overall improved body image which yoga cultivates. Yoga’s fruits may help you breath better, deal with stress and achieve physical goals such as weight management and sexual vitality. These suggestions highlight the serious and lighter sides of yoga.
Three Types of Yoga to Avoid
The “I’m a Gymnast (and You’re Not)” Class
Have you ever landed in a class where your instructor is more interested in showing off than guiding their students’ experience? This attitude is annoying to beginners and experienced students alike. Let’s face it, you are paying the instructor to guide your experience, not to view their athletic and gymnastic prowess.TIP: If your instructor doesn’t start by greeting you, asking your experience level and about your injuries and most importantly, your expectations from the class, you already may be in the wrong place. Does the teacher expect you to do poses without first spending considerable time stretching? Are you asked to do deep backbends or poses which compromise your neck or spine? Stop and find an instructor who is more engaged and compassionate with you, and more experienced with physiology and safety.
Bully Yoga vs. Kramas
”No pain No gain” may apply to boot camp styled fitness, and can be fun, but yoga’s demand on spinal twists, balance and endurance aspects, combined with the goals of mindfulness and stress reduction, require a calm, focused execution of poses. Yoga practice should not be forcing, or require fast paced movements pushing limits without clear understanding and a “krama” approach. Krama means a step by step progression into something, or toward a goal. The goal, in this case, is a more complex pose. A skilled yoga teacher will provide a fundamental, simple version of a pose first. From this foundation, they encourage students to stay at the level they are able, while guiding other students to the more demanding versions of the pose. In this way, students with differing levels of skill can enjoy the same class without duress, or boredom.
TIP: if your instructor does not apply kramas/steps to unfold a peak pose, speak up and ask for the easiest version and how to move step by step to more difficult versions. In this way you can stay where you are comfortable and safe.
Ahhh… Enter the Yoga Guru!
This experience leaves you with a sense the instructor feels they are better than you and that they possess a mystical “guru” status. These teachers may have bizarre names, odd requirements or worshipping “followers”. The purpose of yoga, at its fundamental teachings, encourages the cultivation of humility, selflessness and interest in others. If your instructor behaves as though they transcend you and the group, they may be more invested in their ego than in passing knowledge to you.
TIP: Sadly, some instructors, famous and not, have abused their followers. An authentic yoga instructor will not leave you feeling incompetent, less-than nor abused mentally, financially or physically. When you have a genuine yogi leading you, they will exude a demeanor of kindness, humility and attitude of wanting to learn about, and from, you. Choose teachers and classes where you feel this positive energy.
Always, before engaging in a program of yoga practice, check with your medical professional.Questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget 2018 New Mexico Yoga Teacher Training runs May through Oct. Check it out at www.buddhayogaclass.com.