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Challenge yourself with yoga

I invite everyone to start a therapeutic yoga practice.  Naturally, I hear a lot of interesting reasons why people choose not to take me up on it (yet).

One of the common responses I hear is, “I am not good at balancing, so I don’t think I’ll be able to do it.”

There are two very important aspects of this statement.

The first is about balance. 

What I have observed in the past 15 years of watching bodies age – or effectively reverse their age, once they start a consistent therapeutic yoga program – is that improving your balance after age 50 is as important in life as a toddler learning how to walk. 

Functionality can be lost very quickly when an injury, illness, or surgery takes place.  So it is crucial that a whole-body, balance-inclusive practice be established beforehand, and that the practice itself is designed to be accessible – even at a very basic level – as part of the recovery process.

In times of maintenance and relatively good health, a yoga system that builds and improves your balance will include several accessible-yet-challenging one-legged postures.  The same basic postures should be practiced daily and should always be held in stillness so that coordination and mastery improve.  The support of the wall or a chair can be included at the early stages but eventually will not be needed.

The second is about the idea of “being good at” something.  

Yoga is about breaking the current limitations in your system, and choosing consciously where you are going to go next.  External or internal evaluations of skill or talent are quite irrelevant.

Do you want to improve your balance?  Do you want to reduce your stress?  Do you want to reduce the impacts of time and age on your life?  Do you want to have improved overall energy and aliveness?  Do you want to live with more joy?

I urge you to think deeply about what you want and to choose the directions you are going to head in the next five years.  Taking responsibility for where you will go next is the most important step in your yoga practice.

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Ann Chrapkiewicz, M.A., is the founder, owner, and director of Bikram Yoga Capital Area, an independent yoga school in East Lansing. Contact her at ann@byca.yoga.

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