Learn if yoga is for you
You’ve probably heard of yoga — so, in this moment, what comes to your mind about it?
(Pause for a moment. Notice how your physical body feels right now; notice any thoughts that arrive in your mind.)
Now, as you move into reading this with the desire and patient attention that it takes to continue on, consider whether this opinion about yoga stems from personal experience, judgment or both.
(Pause for a moment. How do you feel? What are you thinking?)
Is this article already getting annoying or too “woo, woo” for you? If so, or if not, just notice and acknowledge a feeling. If you choose to, continue reading …
Ok, now, while you scan the words of this sentence, drop what you know (or what you think you know) about yoga. Let your mind explore the words in front of you from a place of curiosity and wonder.
Feel your breath now — your inhale, your exhale (and again) … inhale … exhale …
(Pause again, but don’t stop breathing. Keep noticing.)
How does your body feel? Where is your mind taking you?
Good work, you just did yoga.
Yes, you may want to go back and do that “exercise” again. You can keep reading on, or turn the page of this paper and catch up on current events. Whatever you choose, acknowledge your decision as a choice. Maybe you’ll turn the page back again and continue where you left off — you choose what you need right now because it’s your life, after all.
BEYOND THE MAT
I’ve had moments in yoga when I’ve opened my eyes during a pose and rolled the retinas clear up into my skull, simply because what the instructor was saying completely irritated me, or perhaps it resonated so clearly that I didn’t dare look at it squarely.
Maybe your eyes rolled around so much in this article’s intro that you stopped reading. But here you are now, your eyes reading again, not rolling.
The gem to grab here is that our experience amidst any given action or interaction is directed by the almighty brain, so whatever your existing opinion of yoga (or about anything, for that matter) is something you have chosen to believe. And your beliefs are what make up your reality.
Whatever you believe — whatever your current reality — the yoga studios in Summit County would no doubt love to have you in their space and on a mat, whether you’re moving, breathing, thinking, clearing, resisting, loving, hating or all of the above.
“What usually happens at first is people are intimidated,” said Deb Curcio, owner and teacher at Summit Hot Yoga in Frisco, “because they think you have to know yoga to go to a studio.”
Curcio said people have expressed that they feel they should “practice first” in order to come try it at a studio.
“We really pride ourselves on being a teaching studio, as we gear ourselves toward instructing people who have never done yoga before,” she said.
Most yoga instructors will tell you that there’s is “a lot more to yoga” than just doing the physical poses. There are actually “Eight Limbs” of yoga, according to the ancient texts of In Patanjali’s “Yoga Sutra” — the yoga poses, along with breath work, a meditation practice, self inquiry and much more. All that this means is the work a practitioner does on his or her mat is just as important, if not equally challenging, as the effort it takes to get on his or her mat in the first place.
“I think people have misconceptions about what yoga is,” said Jason Rodon, founder and co-owner of Meta Yoga Studios in Breckenridge, “because what I hear most often is, ‘Oh, I am not very flexible.’ And what are you supposed to say to that beyond, ‘just come check it out.’ So, what we did is began offering the first week free for Summit County residents so that people can come do just that.”
It’s the physical practice that does generally attract people to their mats in the first place, Rodon said, but then often what unfolds for people goes beyond their initial expectation.
“I think some clarity should be brought to the table about what these practices offer because they are really about self-empowerment and finding the best possible easeful and joyful life for yourself, and that can take many different forms for different people,” he said.
BEGIN, DEVELOP AND DEEPEN
Whether you decide to start at home with videos (example offerings include video products from Gaiam or online subscriptions such as YogaGlo) or in a beginner yoga class, the first step of beginning yoga is just like any other hobby or activity: You have to start, and you have to practice.
To begin, you will need a yoga mat, comfortable fitting clothing that moves with you (not off of you), basic props that include a block and a strap and instruction from a video or live class.
“What I want to accomplish as a studio and a teacher is that we teach you the fundamentals and foundations to get you familiar with a good, safe yoga practice, teaching you about alignment, how to listen to what your body is telling you, and giving you modifications — whether you need them because of experience, age or an injury,” Curcio said. “So even if you don’t come back to our studio and you continue a home practice or move out of the area, you have the information to continue.”
It’s important to find a yoga style that you like and that works for you, and the only way to really do that is to try out a variety of them.
“I think what makes us really special in our offerings is that we have really diverse classes,” Rodon said. “We have meditation classes, restorative yoga, apres ski classes, better back classes, yoga for athletes, prenatal yoga, kids’ yoga and seasonal classes of yoga for ski conditioning, among others.”
Stacey Underwood Holzer, owner of Trinity Wellness Studio in Frisco, said private classes could help break up any discomfort around starting yoga.
“Private group and individual sessions are an option for those new to yoga who may feel overwhelmed in the class environment at first,” she said.
Trinity Wellness Studio offers yoga packages that start at five classes for $55, so that could also be a great way to explore the space.
For yogis with a little more experience under their belt, yoga teacher training can be a way to take the next step in your practice, even if you aren’t looking to become a yoga teacher. Curcio recommended about a year’s worth of a dedicated yoga practice before beginning a teacher training, because she said it takes time to learn what resonates with you, to notice what is going on in the body and to get the alignment down.
“The reason I see a lot of people do teacher training is because within that year’s time, something profound has happened to them, whether that’s having a health crisis or an injury, or spiritually something has shifted, or they just notice how when they settle the mind they are so much more relaxed in everyday life with what’s going on — and you’re not going to find all that out by doing yoga for just a couple of weeks,” she said. “So give yourself at least a year, because within that time frame there may an experience that people want to share with others.”
Summit Hot Yoga generally offers a teacher training twice a year, and the next session begins in May. For more information on this training, visit the studio’s website at http://www.summithotyoga.com.
In addition to the Meta studio space he co-owns, Rodon has also founded Meta Yoga Schools teacher training programs to give trainees a lineage-based “path of self-study … (to) receive a solid background in the fundamentals of Tantric Hatha Yoga. … The program includes experience and instruction with meditation, asana (postures), Ayurveda (health science), pranayama (breath), yoga history, philosophy, mantra, Sanskrit, anatomy, purposeful sequencing and developing a personal practice.”
More specific information on the Meta trainings can be found at http://www.metayogastudios.com.
And all the while, you’re still breathing. Steady inhales … steady exhales …
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