Yoga today is very different from when I took my first yoga class over forty years ago. You can now take yoga classes online, yoga videos line the shelves of local libraries, and classes are abundant at private studios, healthclubs, and YMCA’s.
In 1994 yoga journal commissioned the roper poll to do a nationwide survey. They found that over 6 million americans practice regularly with an additional 16 million people who have expressed and interest in taking a class.
On the island of martha’s vineyard, where I live and direct sacred circle of yoga studio there are over 40 teachers and 20 different venues to practice in. Alison kisselgof, a yoga practioneer who was frustrated not knowing when classes were being held on island took action and created marthasvineyardyoga.com to assist fellow students locate a wide variety of yoga classes in our community.
So, what is yoga? Yoga today includes many western flavors and hybrid styles. When something gains popularity in the U.S. and there is money to be made americans find many creative ways to market and entice consumers and get them in the door. Beware, you want to do a little research to find the right fit for your yoga needs before you jump in and injure yourself. The ancient practice of yoga has its roots In India and is much more than just a workout.
So where do you begin to investigate this 5,000 year old tradition?
First, consider why you are interested:
- Is it because it’s the “popular exercise” to do?
- did your doctor or health-care provider recommend that you take a class?
- Have you tried yoga and found that it made you feel relaxed and rejuvenated in your body mind spirit?
If you answered yes to any of these questions here are a few steps you can take to bring yoga into your life.
1. Choose the right type of yoga for your age and physical condition.
2. Find a yoga teacher and studio that you feel comfortable with.
3. Make a commitment to either practice at home or attend a class for at least 6 months so the benefits of yoga will be clear.
4. subscribe to this blog and begin a conversation about yoga, asking questions or reflecting on your practice.
Georg Feuerstein, Ph.D. is the author the shambhala encyclopedia of yoga, which I highly recommend as a reference book. The essentials of yoga, An omega intitute mind body spirit book gives you an overview that includes breathing techniques, yoga poses and expert advice on how to make yoga a part of your lifestyle. Kripalu yoga is the tradition that I took my yoga teacher training with at Kripalu center in Lenox, MA and in Kayavarohan, India.
Kripalu Yoga, a guide to practice on and off the Mat by Richard Faulds is a beautiful book filled with lots of yoga info and personal stories.
Yoga is my way of life and for me it represents wholeness, coming into union with my body mind and spirit on a daily basis. This is a lifelong practice and although challenging at times it brings me great joy. I love this quote by George feuerstein, stephan bodain and the staff of yoga journal:
“Yoga is first and foremost the discipline of conscious living. When we take charge of our lives, we also tap into our inner potential for happiness, or what in Sanskrit is called ananda. This primal joy, which transcends the ego or personality, wells up in our hearts and infuses our whole being with vibrant energy – life. Thus energized, or enlivened, we can go about the business of our daily living in a harmonious manner. We become highly creative, establishing order where there is chaos, instilling life where there is a vacuum, causing comfort where there is destress, In other words, because we are full of joy and life, we become a healing presence in the world.