Fit For You: Yoga
When yoga comes to mind, perhaps you can imagine a warmly lit room with incense and calm music playing while people sit cross-legged on a mat, or a public TV show with women stretching on a beach. But did you know you can easily do yoga on a walk or sitting in the car?
"(Yoga) is very accessible for anyone and to do those pretzel poses is not even necessary, honestly," says local certified yoga instructor Heather Eiden. She explains that at the practice's core is centered the body and mind and working towards balance - not just physically, but also spiritually.
Yoga's history traces back to ancient India and includes eight steps that form the framework for any practice, but Hatha yoga is the most popular practice in the modern West, according to Eiden. "It's more about physical disciplines and the postures sequenced in a way that leads into a flow," she explains.
Just as there are many types of personalities, Eiden notes there are many different practices of yoga to suit each person's temperament, physical needs and limitations and overall heath goals. She suggests a restorative practice for anyone who is agitated or has a busy mind. If you find yourself feeling lethargic in both your body and mind, go with a vinyasa flow and stay on the mat. Ingar yoga, or alignment based yoga, includes walls, chairs and other props to aid anyone who is looking for posture restoration. "So there are many different ways to practice," Eiden adds.
In any yoga class you take, all will involve holding different postures. Eiden says the postures help to relieve and redirect any unbalanced focus your mind may have in the present moment.
"It is easier for the mind to relate to something that is tangible - the body," she explains. "And accomplishing a yoga posture can be evaluated by alignment, a straight stretch, directing the mind to an object without distractions; then quieting the mind becomes a little easier. So the postures allow us to move towards that state of being still or quiet."
For new comers to yoga who may be overwhelmed by the physical aspects, Eiden advises to first focus on breathing. "Stay connected with the breath, and also know that yoga is an inward vision, nothing is really outside of ourselves in the practice. Even though we're practicing with other people, the inward focus is incredibly necessary."
Even if you are hesitant to take a yoga class, you can start by practicing yoga in everyday activities. "Going for a walk along the river is a practice of yoga, taking a deep breath is a practice of yoga. Your yoga could be anything that helps you to center," she says.