Find Total Wellness with Yoga
By Rebecca Watson, YMCA certified yoga instructor
Whether you’ve never tried it, or you’re a regular yogi, there are so many reasons this age-old exercise is becoming increasingly popular. Learn about this powerful fitness form and come to the Y to experience it for yourself.
Bringing spirit, mind, and body together
What makes yoga so wonderful is that it focuses on total wellness. As a physical exercise, it builds strength, conditioning, flexibility, and agility. It can be done as part of its own fitness routine, or it can complement other exercises, such as swimming, running, or walking.
From a mental perspective, yoga maximizes the rhythm of breathing. In yoga, you don’t have to worry or think about whether you’re engaged mentally. You focus on slowing the breath, which automatically quiets the mind.
Spiritually, yoga can bring about change. Regular practice of yoga often results in feelings that are like a “runner’s high.” Clients tell me that yoga lifts their spirits and brightens their lives.
Overcoming the “no’s”
Still, with all yoga’s benefits, people are often resistant to trying it. The reasons they give are plenty: They say they’re not flexible or too old. They don’t like meditation. Yoga is too new-age. People fear they can’t get up and down from the mat, or it’s not enough of a workout.
I tell clients to give it a try. While it can be intimidating, yoga is accessible to everyone – regarding of their fitness level or physical abilities. I also remind them: If you think you’re not flexible now, how much more flexible will you be 10 years from now if you don’t start moving?
How to begin
The trick to starting yoga is just to start. These tips can help:
- First, find the right class for you. There are many different types of yoga: Chair, Vinyassa, gentle, hot, power flow, and more. Don’t stress about making the right choice. Read the descriptions and look for something that interests you. If you’re a beginner, look for classes designed for “all levels.” The Y offers a well-rounded yoga platform – try a variety of classes and see which ones work best for you.
- Set expectations. When you start yoga, know that you will feel uncomfortable the first time, or even the 10th time. Expect it to be hard and challenging, but trust that it will get easier. Also, be prepared to be still and meditate. Many people think meditation is a waste of time, but it is an essential component of the yoga process.
- Know that teachers want to help. If you’re nervous about starting, tell the instructor you’re new, or ask for outside-of-class help learning the poses. Let your instructor know if you have health issues or injuries. Remember that, as yoga instructors, we want you to live healthy and be successful. We care – it’s in our nature.
If you’ve ever thought of taking a yoga class, now is the perfect time to give it a try. it’s something you can do your whole life, and you can start at any age. I hear from clients all the time who say, “I feel wonderful.” I say, “It’s not me. That’s the power of yoga.”
To learn more about yoga at the Y, click here.
About Rebecca Watson
YMCA yoga instructor Rebecca Watson loves teaching yoga and enjoys watching each person discover its bountiful benefits. She has been teaching for over 10 years and believes that through yoga, everyone can enhance their overall fitness, health, and well-being. Rebecca teaches at the YMCA Glendale Sports Center at Infinity Park. She says the YMCA is a great place to start or continue your yoga practice.