Photo by Liesl Marelli (www.LMarelliPhotography.com)
I look forward to Saturday mornings because it’s a yoga day! Sometimes I’m not as prepared to leave the house and I have to rush to class. I realize rushing to yoga is a bit counterproductive but it’s just the way it goes.
I drive up the parking deck, pop the truck, grab my mat and head to the library. I wait anxiously as the elevator doors open and take me toward my yoga retreat. If I’m late to class, I have to search for an open space. Lately I’ve been good about being on time and even a little early. Those extra moments on my mat before class begins lets me stretch out and prepare for a wonderful experience.
Classes rotate between two instructors. Their styles are very different as are their accents. I cannot help but love Priyanka’s accent. Her voice sounds like a beautiful melody that’s constantly reminding me of her upbringing in India. Maybe it’s her accent, maybe it’s her tone, maybe it’s her natural love of yoga … but she’s become my definition of a yoga instructor.
Sometimes the classes prove more challenging than others. There are a lot of people who attend each class and so we sometimes get squished in to make room for everyone who wants to attend. That means we aren’t able to stretch out as much as we would during smaller classes. Accidentally touching a neighbor is an unfortunate occurrence (like today’s class) that snaps me out of my peaceful trance and back into reality. It doesn’t happen of then though, I’m happy to report.
I love the diversity in class. We are a combination of men and women who are a rainbow of the gods’ creation, we represent an array of fitness abilities, age and health. I particularly love that people living with cancer come to class - whether it’s together or not, it’s just cool seeing that those housed within the four walls of our yoga class all care about the same thing — each other, peace of mind, body and soul, and a collective need to have yoga in our lives.
Class is twice a week. It’s a wonderful excuse to stretch, rest my mind and focus on my breath. I’m surprised there aren’t more men my age in class. I know there is a stipulation about yoga among those who haven’t tried it yet. I’ve heard my fair share of men scoff at the idea of doing yoga who pledge to never do it because they’d rather do a real workout. Funny how I bet they’d feel better after doing yoga and it would actually benefit their workouts with “real men’s” weights. lol
The paradigm is slowly shifting though and I’m pretty certain yoga will continue sweeping the nation. Little-by-little yoga will venture into all of our lives.
Yoga has been practiced for more than 5,000 years and, according to Yoga Journal (Press Release: Feb. 26, 2008) more than 15.8 million Americans practice yoga. I am sure there are a few million added to its list of followers at present time. Apparently the female to male representation in the class is a quite accurate national averages because in 2008, the overall yoga population was 72 percent female and 27 percent male. (Yoga in America study, 2008) Even more interesting is that 44 percent of U.S. yoga practitioners have a household income of more than $75,000 and 24 percent earn more than $100,000. I don’t believe I’ve ever read statistics about fitness habits and wealth before. Have you? I saw it in the study and figured I’d plug it in here but it’s still a bit odd to me …
You know what’s funny about the gender statistic? I would think that going to a yoga class is an ideal place to meet someone. I’m actually pretty surprised there aren’t more guys in class. I love that my honey comes to class with me. Some people in class are couples, some attend alone, some attend with friends and some bring their well-behaved kids. I enjoy sharing a (noncompetitive) activity with my honey. It’s as good for our relationship as it is for our bodies and minds. We also play racquetball together but that’s 100 percent competitive (and fun!).
To all of you who are considering yoga, I hope you cave to the temptation and give it a shot. There are a ton of discounted classes offered on Living Social, Groupon and some cities, like West Palm Beach, Chicago and Miami, offer classes for free. Your only cost is a bottle of water, mat and transportation to class. Check it out! It’s absolutely worth it.
My Free Yoga at http://myfreeyoga.com/ has a few classes you can watch. As a beginner I’d strongly suggest going to a yoga studio to make sure you are doing the postures correctly. It would be awful to execute them the wrong way and get hurt in the process!!
My Yoga Online at http://www.myyogaonline.com/ also offers videos, educational material and a plethora of other resources. Their website is easy to maneuver and great for both new and experienced yogis.
Groupon at http://www.groupon.com/ is something I’ve used for a while now and absolutely love. It’s a great way to shop around at local businesses and venture into new activities without breaking the bank. Living Social at www.livingsocial.com is similar to Groupon. I use both.
And, if you still aren’t convinced, the Mayo Clinic says this about the health benefits of yoga:
Stress reduction. With its quiet, precise movements, yoga draws your focus away from your busy, chaotic day and toward calm as you move your body through poses that require balance and concentration.
Increased fitness. As you learn and refine new poses, you may enjoy improved balance, flexibility, range of motion and strength. And this means you’re less likely to injure yourself in other physical endeavors or in your daily activities.
Management of chronic health conditions. Yoga might help with a variety of health conditions, such as cancer, depression, pain, anxiety and insomnia, by helping with sleep problems, fatigue and mood. Yoga also can help reduce heart rate and blood pressure.
Weight loss. If you’re overweight or have binge-eating disorder, yoga may help you make the healthy lifestyle changes necessary to gain control of your eating and drop those extra pounds.
While you shouldn’t expect yoga to cure you or offer 100 percent relief, it can help some health conditions when combined with standard treatment. And if you already enjoy good health, yoga can be an enjoyable supplement to your regular fitness routine.
Photo by Liesl Marelli (www.LMarelliPhotography.com)