Can I do yoga if I’m not an Instagram Influencer?
What do you think of when you think of yoga? Is it Instagram images of people throwing a Tree Pose or Downward Dog in front of a beach/ waterfall/ sunset? Hippie guys with man buns chanting? These images promote the idea that yoga is only for those you are young, thin and bendy (and it seems, have an extensive travel budget!) For a good giggle on this theme, check out JP Sears’ videos like this one. His sardonic videos remind us that we are forgetting the true value of yoga in a modern world where we need it more than ever.
Some of our younger students are put off yoga because they think it’s not going to give them a workout. Yet yoga poses when done properly are actually very challenging and we frequently get students commenting about how the pose seems easy but is actually very difficult to hold.
As FLOW’s yoga teacher Kimma Stark says in her entertaining way, “Down dog is a bitch when done right. It may just look like something a child does, but when you actually fire up all the muscles you need, it is work.”
But then at some point that hard work becomes easier, what Kimma describes as “yoga magic”- when we tune into the body and are more mindful.
Yoga for body and soul
It’s useful to think about why you want to do yoga and what you want to gain from your practice. Many people become interested in yoga from a desire to stretch the body. But yoga offers so much more than this; a good yoga practice helps calm the mind as well as the body.
In the Flow
Kimma tells us what yoga means to her: “It’s about quieting the mind, listening to your body, and freeing your spirit/emotions of old, bad habits that are hurtful. You stretch and strengthen, focus, breathe and in that process strip away what is not useful. You get better at the sports you love because you are in the flow. You are more creative”.
This approach comes from the concept of Ahimsa, which Kimma explains is “the first rule of yoga… non-harming”. A good, regular yoga practice brings a sense of peace and comfort in oneself which should have a ripple effect on the world. Kimma says “you feel more able to do what is right for you in the moment and live in peace in yourself. And when we are at peace within we are able to deal with the world better. We can be better partners, employees, friends”.
Mind your Mindfulness
Yoga is not about forcing our bodies into positions in which they aren’t comfortable- it was not created for stretching and circus tricks. We have to start by applying Ahimsa to ourselves first.
Use your practice as time to get in touch with your body and just observe how it feels. Is one side tighter than the other? Should we feel frustrated about that or to take it as a sign we need to stretch more on the uncomfortable side? Learning to observe the body instead of judging it uses the principles of mindfulness. This art of impassive observation can be a very useful skill in dealing with the stresses of everyday life.
You 2.0- better every day
This is why yoga has been a core part of our offering at FLOW since week one. We chose martial arts over other forms of exercise because they offer powerful mental benefits as well as physical. Martial arts and yoga practice helps us manage our ego and embrace the learning journey; whether we call it “white belt mentality” or Ahimsa. At FLOW, we are making ourselves better people every day.