Sunday, December 11, 2016

Finding a foundation - Yoga

source: Google

Disclaimer: To me, Yoga is not about being a tree hugger. I don't do crystals, auras, chakras or Gurus. I use Yoga for my own sake not to be part of a group. My group is my family. I approach everything that can't be explained with Science with a very skeptical expression on my face. Just because it is 'ancient' doesn't give it credibility in my book. That said I have invited Yoga into my life.

My first introduction to Yoga was a 1 on 1 session based on Forest Yoga. It was very intense and the sessions lasted an hour+. I was sweating buckets. I was a bit shocked about the exposure of some of the poses and to be honest I still am ;) Happy baby or Downward dog in Yoga pants doesn't leave anything to the imagination. My instructor was not left in doubt of what I was thinking about the hands-on corrections of my poses. With the unflattering stories from e.g. Bikram Yoga, it is easy to see how this can turn into something other than healthy exercises for the body and the brain.

source: Google

The Yoga that we know today has taken its root in tantra, which is aimed to help one's health, long life and liberation through extensive use of chakras and mantras and sexual techniques. As stated I don't do Yoga to examine these areas but be aware .. this is the root of Yoga. Again I can easily see how things can be sliding here.

Source: Google

After that session, I went on a Google session to find Yoga without nonsense. The search was funny. Half of the results stated that Yoga without the nonsense was exactly focusing on these areas and the other half was leaning forwards alternative options such as Pilates. It seemed clear that the Yoga community wasn't seeing the problem here. What do I know .. perhaps there was no problem but I was definitely looking for something else.

I knew from a number of friends that Yoga had given them a lot especially runners so I was keen on giving it a try but I wanted something pure and rid of 'nonsense'. Clearly, the exercises were effective and strength building. Adding tempo to the routines also made them potentially good cardio training.

There are many classes locally but I didn't feel like trying out all of them plus I like an exercise where I can do it when I have the time and need.

I went to YouTube. First impressions were that many channels were very much about the exposing the Yoga teacher more than giving good classes. The camera positioned to focus on the cleavages instead of displaying the correct posture. It is a business. Viewers mean money. This was not what I was looking for. I was nearly giving up on Yoga as a serious exercise.

I was looking for a structured series of exercises that was targeted to build strength and or flexibility to a certain area of the body without mentioning chakras, sexual energy, spiritualism, mindfulness or rules for how many grams of clothing one was allowed to wear. Where the practitioner is in focus, not the instructor.

Ultimately I did find a YouTube channel that was good. It was called Yoga with Adriene . I was a beginner and her beginning classes were very down to earth and she had a good portion of self-humor that made the all the nonsense way more acceptable.

I did her classes for many months until I got familiar with the names of most common poses and their target areas. Then I moved on to her more intense classes. Power flow Yoga, Yoga for weight loss and so forth. All was good but I had reached the point where I was ready for less talk and more structure. So I went looking again.

This time I ended up with Sarah Beth Yoga. Her channel was less feel good and more to the point. Most of her classes (except the early ones) are filmed from the side with a good view of how to position oneself correctly. They also provide an alternative to some of the tough poses so everyone can get something of the class. They are faster in pace so I really do suggest that beginners do begin with Adriene instead.

Both channels offer routines aimed at certain areas, moods or intentions.

One note I must make. I thought of Yoga to be safe and without chance of injuries. That is a far cry from the truth. There are many ways to get injured in Yoga. A Yoga instructor should guide you through these with care and you should not do something that your body isn't ready for. You CAN get seriously injured.

So have I found what I was looking for? I think I have. Though not totally ridden off the topics mentioned, I have found that at least one of these topics is actually good. Mindfulness. Being in the present without the noise of the past and the future. Enabling you to make the best decisions based on the current input. Giving yourself a mental break in a stressful environment. More on that in a later post.

Today my living room is turned into a Yoga studio. Simple and zen like. I do Yoga daily. I am more flexible and strong from the exercises. Had I been so if I had turned to Pilates? Likely, but I ended up with Yoga instead. If you want to take on Yoga yourself, try the two channels mentioned or look for no-nonsense classes in your neighborhood. Namaste!

source: Google

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