Watching TV & Downward Dog
Why Do Yoga?
by Page Turner
Is it possible to become a calm, centered master of your own universe even in the madness of this modern world? When you have about a thousand priorities on your list of things to do in the measly 24 hours of each day, yoga might weigh in at number 1,001. As an online yoga teacher, I bring private yoga lessons into people’s home via live, interactive lessons. Even with this convenient delivery method, I have heard every excuse imaginable why yoga just doesn’t fit in. Any of these sound familiar?
“I’m not bendy!”
This is probably the most popular excuse to avoid yoga. Just because you aren’t inclined to fold yourself into a pretzel doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from the practice of modified yoga. With gentle practice and persistence, you will find that your hips, hamstrings and spine will loosen up right along with that uptight attitude you seem prone to lately. If you have difficulty sitting in a cross-legged position on the floor, try sitting on a few firm pillows or folded towels, or sit up straight in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
“I don’t have time…”
This is one that, I’ll admit, I have used repeatedly throughout my nine-year practice. I’ve gone weeks without doing yoga at all, just because I felt too busy to even sit down and breathe for five seconds. The truth that I’ve found in all of these situations, however, is that, oddly enough, taking that extra few moments to stretch and regroup actually make me feel like I have more time on my hands. It makes sense, too, that when you are hectic and hurried, you are predisposed to forgetfulness and scattered thoughts; you spend more time picking up after yourself than getting anything done. The connection to your center, your breath and your higher purpose accomplished through yoga sets the course for smooth-sailing through all those complex tasks you’ve planned.
Perhaps it’s just the opposite…perhaps you just feel like watching TV for hours. That’s ok, too! While traditional yoga wouldn’t necessarily mix with Real House Wives, it’s always better to get in some yoga stretches while the show’s on, than not to do it at all. You can even get creative, watching the TV between your knees in Downward Dog!
“I don’t really need to work out since I already have a gym membership…” (Or, “I love my Zumba…” or whatever).
While strengthen your physical body, yoga offers tuning on the mental, emotional and spiritual levels as well. You can literally repair emotional damage due to anger, fear and anxiety, clear issues that haunt you from the past and gain perspective on difficult situations. The way that it works on the body is on a deeper level as well, working on the nervous system, connective tissues and balancing subtle energies in the body and brain. These seemingly abstract bodily systems actually have more impact on your overall health than those bulging muscles of yours. The nervous system maintains all the internal organs and functioning of all the body’s systems. In yoga, you work from the inside, out to overcome the tensions of daily stress, prevent disease and naturally tone and strengthen muscles as well. Relaxation is a key element of yoga not found in most other workout forms. This essential “unplugging” of the nervous system allows the body and mind to “reset” itself, yielding a range of mental, emotional and physical benefits.
“I can’t afford to go to a studio or hire a private teacher.”
Humm…I always wonder how much this person spends each year on prescription or OTC medications…There’s one for headache, one for sleeping, one if you are sad for more than 3 days and another if you can’t stay awake because of the others. Tension or discomfort anywhere in your life, it is evidence of a blockage or toxin build-up. Instead spending money for more toxins to cure the problem, let’s simply take the time to work out the problem naturally, or better yet, prevent it before it starts. Yoga is renowned as one of the most powerful preventative medicines with thousands of years of practice and hundreds of clinical studies to back it up. Think of the hospital bills you’ll save on when you don’t get cancer!
If you don’t know what to do, just do whatever feels good. Make special place on the floor by placing a mat or towel in a spot free of debris. Stretch your spine forward, back and side-to-side. Stretch your shoulders and neck muscles while breathing slowly and deeply. Usually, once you start moving, you will feel other ways to stretch and gently twist your spine, tendons and muscles. Set aside at least ten minutes to simply move, stretch, bend and reach. Then take at least a minute to meditate or just rest. You can also find free meditation and yoga videos on sites like youtube and I’m tired…I don’t have the energy to do yoga right now.
Yoga practices range from vigorously invigorating to soothing and relaxing. You always have the option to push forward or chill out. While the temptation to channel-surf offers the path of least resistance, the rewards of the attempt are what make life worth living. Of course, listening to your body is the first priority, but even a short yoga session can make you feel exponentially improved, even when you didn’t realize you needed a boost.
A Chinese proverb states, “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” Yoga is the process and result of finding union with the self and the infinite—a thousand-year journey that each of us must take regardless of petty personal pursuits within the illusions of space and time. There is no greater achievement or higher priority than this ultimate union, and the power to achieve all other goals springs from this utmost pursuit.