I’m Kirsti. A writer, a student of world religions, a grower of herbs, vegetables and flowers, a yoga practitioner, and a lover of all thing spiritual and sustainable.
Writing for CredibleMind.com, a company focused on finding, creating, and rating the best resources for mental health and well-being, I’ve carved out a little space for my own planet-focused, spiritually-minded angle on mental health.
Kirstifrazier.com is my blog home showcasing life on our revolutionary-era farm, growing vegetables and herbs, creating botanicals, keeping chickens for eggs, keeping a space hospitable to wild things and spirits …
Why Self Love Matters at Work on LinkedIN: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-self-love-matters-work-kirsti-frazier
Yoga is for everyone (coming to CredibleMind in September)
by Kirsti Frazier
Most of us have heard that yoga is good for us, that it is a practice of mindfulness, that it can help with stress reduction, and that it can help build strength and flexibility. We’ve heard yoga enhances fitness, it helps those who practice it have greater body awareness, become more mindful eaters, and tune in to their bodies.
All of that – and more – can be realized from a practice of yoga. Studies have found that yoga also benefits cardiovascular health and can help with weight reduction. With so much to recommend it, why isn’t everybody practicing yoga?
Many people feel that yoga is not for them, that it requires too much flexibility, or too much balance, or a certain kind of spiritual or meditative way of being. There seem to be pictures of fit people in tight yoga pants and tops all over the internet and in advertisements – it’s intimidating!
I felt that way, too when I went to my first class – that yoga wasn’t for me. I didn’t meditate and I was nervous I’d fall over trying to do a difficult pose and embarrass myself. I remember feeling that as a person with little or no experience doing yoga I didn’t belong in the class.
Despite that feeling, I plucked myself up one day and went. My reasons were simple: I have injuries in my ankle, knee, and back and I was in pain; some days it was hard to move. I knew I needed to do something to take care of myself and I was afraid of injuring myself out on the ice during a walk or run (it was winter in New England). I wanted to feel better, I wanted to move better, and so I decided to give yoga a try.
My local yoga studio’s online calendar offered several classes. I couldn’t find one for beginners but the site indicated the classes that were for all levels. So I chose one, marked my calendar, and went.
The yoga instructor spotted me immediately – a new student. She asked if I’d done yoga before. I confessed I had – once, years ago, but not since then. She nodded as if it was perfectly normal for me to be there, uninvited (I wasn’t so sure). She asked me if I was okay with being assisted and to sign a new student form, and pointed to the doorway to the studio, saying I could borrow a mat or use my own. And that was it – I could join the class.
I spread out the mat that I had purchased for the class in the very back of the room, and sat nervously watching all of the experienced yogis – men and women – coming in and setting up their mats, chatting and positioning their water bottles nearby along the wall. I didn’t have a water bottle; I felt unprepared. I told myself it was okay.
The yoga instructor came in and welcomed everyone to the class before beginning with a few moments of settling quietly on our mats and breathing. And then we began, slowly, to practice vinyasa yoga. I did my best to follow along, listening to her instructions, watching what others did, and breathing in and out when I was told to.
It wasn’t entirely easy, some poses were challenging and I did modifications, which the instructor skillfully queued. No one asked me to stand on my head or perform a balancing pose or painful contortion. Throughout the class, we “did what made sense” for our bodies. When the class was over I felt great: limber, warm, relaxed, even a little blissful. I was glad I had taken the class.
Now, years later as I near completion of my yoga instructor training, I can say with confidence that a practice of yoga absolutely supports a healthier life. Practicing just a couple of times a week has helped me feel much better, lose weight, and cultivate a calmer outlook. And being part of a community of people practicing yoga together has been supportive during these difficult weeks and months.
September is National Yoga Month, recognized by the NIH and other organizations for the purpose of promoting the health benefits of yoga and for inspiring healthier lifestyles.
There are many styles of yoga to explore: Ashtanga Yoga,which can be considered a kind of Vinyasa Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Bikram Yoga, and others. Some practices are more physical and intense and others are gentler and more focused on breathing and mindfulness.
During September, some studios and organizations offer free classes as part of National Yoga Month to encourage people to give yoga a try. This year, during these months of quarantine, yoga can be practiced safely with a remote class; it’s a great time to take a class from the comfort of your bedroom or living room. And instructors post bios that give new students a sense for who their instructor is and the approach they bring to their classes.
So if you’ve never tried yoga before or want to resume your practice, September is a great time to find a class and give it a whirl. There’s a good chance you’ll be glad you did.