Be Careful Out There Yogis; Your Body Needs You…
As I picked up one of my favorite magazines and started to flip through it, I was so excited to see an eight page article about yoga. Wow! It had lots of information, beautiful graphics, and even a map showing all the yoga studios in the area. But as I read it, I became more and more disappointed.
This ‘beginner’s guide’, in my opinion, was actually quite intimidating in itself. The information was overwhelming. The graphics were gorgeous, yet not comprehensive. The map was helpful, yet furthered my concerns.
But enough about the article. I am really not here to criticize the magazine or the article’s author. It really was a nice article and any exposure yoga receives is good. And this magazine has always been one of my favorites and still is.
What I want to do, as a Certified Integrative Yoga Therapy Instructor, is take it back several steps and offer my own ideas about starting or continuing a yoga practice.
- Put safety first. Know your body and it’s limitations. Honor it. Practice the type of yoga that allows helpful and safe movement in your body, not the type that forces struggle and strain. Muscle spasms in the back often lead people to start a yoga practice. But a safe and modified yoga practice is essential in this case, or the spasms can become worse. One of the best ways to do this is to use props like blocks, bolsters, straps, blankets, and the wall. Use what you need to stay safe and feel good.
- Look for classes with descriptions using words like gentle, modified, slow, and well…beginners. Even if you are returning to yoga after a previous practice of intermediate, advanced, even power yoga, there is obviously a reason you took a break. Enter your new practice gradually and give yourself time to work back into it. And by all means, if you’ve never done yoga before, a gentle class suited for beginners is a must. And what’s even better is a Beginner’s Series, where you can learn the postures in detail.
- Do YOUR yoga. Even if you don’t know what that is yet, you do know your body, so honor it. All of your postures will look different from someone else’s and that is perfect. Your yoga. Your mat. Your choices.
- Try out a few different instructors and stick with the one who actually gives you instructions, cues, corrections, modifications, and positive feedback. Unfortunately, we are a dying breed. But we are out there and we want to help you.
- Breathe. Your body will thank you for it. It will actually move more easily and be open to new postures if you give it oxygen. Inhale deeply to open and lengthen the body. Exhale long and slow to settle into the posture. It will take a few reminders but practice will make it perfect.
I’ve been doing yoga for 13 years now and have been certified for almost two. I was lucky enough to learn from the very best instructors in this area. When people take my class for the first time, they say things like this:
- no one ever told me I was doing that wrong
- you are just what I was looking for
- I’m so glad you give instructions and corrections
- I’ve never been sure how to do many of the poses
- your voice is soothing and makes me comfortable
- it feels like coming home
This list isn’t for bragging. This list tells me that I’m doing what I was trained to do. Teach yoga in a safe, positive, and friendly environment. Allow my students to practice at a level and pace suited to their needs.
I teach yoga four times a week at three different locations to a variety of ages, genders, levels, physical abilities, and personalities. My job is to serve all of them, as best as I can.
So, I ask all yoga instructors and students…please be careful out there.
And call me if you need me.
Libby Blumberg, RYT 200