If you’ve already dropped the ball on your New Year’s resolutions, or if you’re at the point where the mere idea of resolutions makes you cringe, it’s time try a new approach. Yoga is the practice of putting your intentions into action. With yoga, you set goals for yourself and take logical steps toward reaching them. Every time you step on your mat, each pose and each breath is a renewed commitment to yourself and your vision. Set the tone for the New Year: Make a commitment to yourself, stick with your goals, and make it the best year yet with the support of yoga.
The first step in yoga is to set an intention. To live a fulfilling life, you have to work toward something you truly care about. Focus on how you’d like your vision to feel. Aim high – why not? Be as specific as possible so you can take logical steps toward achieving your vision. For example, “By June 1, I will be the yoga trainer for the Philadelphia Eagles.” This way you have clear direction for your goals and can move forward with clarity.
There’s a misconception that the practice of yoga is not concerned with goals or aspirations. Yoga is a practice, not a thinking session. While setting a clear intention is important, it’s only part of it. You have to put your plan into action. How you move forward to achieve your goals makes all the difference in living a meaningful life. That’s one of the main intentions of yoga: to love your life and flourish in it.
Practicing the physical postures in yoga is humbling. There are very few people who come to yoga capable of doing more than half of the poses, and fewer who can achieve them with healthy alignment. Everyone comes to their mats with their own strengths and weaknesses. When you practice thebalancing poses, inversions and arm balances, you must take a leap of faith to attempt them and be willing to fall out numerous times to succeed. Through time, you train your mind to be relentless without being harmful. This practice builds a strong work ethic and helps to develop a mentality that is paramount in reaching your goals.
The most important quality of a good yoga practice is that it is efficient. You want to be sure that your efforts on your mat are bearing results. This means do more of what works and less of what does not. In yoga, you learn to listen to your intuition. If something does not feel right, or if you are getting stuck, stop and try using a different technique. How many times do we get derailed in our paths to obtain our goals because the method to reaching them is not working? It takes guts to take a step back and re-approach a task from a different perspective. Yoga demands you learn to practice in a way that empowers you and to let go of what does not.
When you are practicing yoga, whether you’re alone or in a group class, it’s a personal experience. From how you stand physically to how you stand individually, your perspective is completely unique to you. Through this more intimate experience, you get to know yourself more completely. With this knowledge also comes a sense of personal responsibility: You know exactly what you need to do to be in a healthy place within your body and mind. This also means that if you don’t align your poses in a way that feels good, you feel responsible for your actions. You develop a strong sense of personal liability that helps you move forward with your goals.
In a society that is always demanding that you do more, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you’re not good enough or that nothing you do is good enough. In yoga, you take an attitude that supports abundance rather than living your life from a place of scarcity. This idea means that you have everything you need now, and you’re going to need everything you have. This is not to say you’re not striving to be a better person, but that you are worthy.
Many of the physical poses and the variations also lend themselves to building confidence. One example is in the evolution of a handstand. First, you start by achieving a strong “down dog.” Then you progress to attempting variations against the wall, and lastly, you move to balancing in the center of the room. As you commit to your practice, you cross many thresholds and achieve a level of health you never thought was possible. This inspires optimism and a sense of overall confidence.
A little bit of encouragement goes a long way. If you surround yourself with positive, like-minded people, you set yourself up for success. The yoga community is welcoming. After some time, you begin to trust your fellow yogis and share your aspirations with them. Before you know it, you have a group optimistic people who are looking out for you and every bit of support helps.
A common stigma that comes with yoga is that it teaches flightiness. If you are clear on what you want to achieve and who you want to become, you will be more reliable and focused than ever. If you arepracticing yoga for any extended period of time, you have to find depth in your practice. You have to work the fundamentals so intricately that they are no longer fundamental.
Alignment of the hands & wrists in downdog:
1. Place your hands such that the center of your wrists are even with your outer shoulders & your wrists make a straight line across.
2. Nail down the entire perimeter of your hands evenly.
3. Claw your finger tips slightly – as if you were palming a #basketball.
4. Create a little lift underneath the very base of your palm by your wrists. You’re forearms should be smoking! *Not your wrists*
Yoga For Dudes, Downdog Tutorial:
1. Bend your knees 1/2 way towards the floor.
2. Widen your knees as wide as your heels. About hips distance apart.
3. Tilt your pelvis up, until it’s neutral. I.e. Until you have a natural curve in your low-back.
4. Only as much as you can keep that extension in your low-back, work your legs as straight as they’ll go!
There is no avoiding the aging process. It’s the one thing that is certain. Yet, out of fear of the inevitable, we often neglect to take logical steps and prepare for the future. Yoga is a safe and fun way to stay physically healthy, and keep our minds sharp and positive. Prescribing to a yoga practice helps us accept the life cycle and prevents us from becoming a burden to our loved ones as we age. Yoga is a practice we can grow old with, and allows us to flourish and receive ourselves and our lives as a gift.
As you grow older, the yoga practice gets sweeter in so many ways. Throughout the evolution of your yoga practice, you willfully open your body and become strong and flexible in ways you didn’t know were possible. You can avoid the aches and pains that you think are a part of life with a regular practice. Beyond the physical practice, yoga creates a sense of radical self-care. Your overall physical appearance looks more vibrant – from the health of your skin and hair to the mobility in your body.
Yoga opens your mind and helps you listen and think for yourself. Following the teacher’s verbal instructions and moving your body accordingly keeps you alert. Yoga is beautifully simple yet infinitely deep. There are numerous varieties that are accessible but unique. This demands your complete focus and critical thinking because every word and nuance matters. Once a trust is built with a teacher, students communicate how a certain pose feels for them, if the alignment is working or not, or whether the instructor’s adjustments are helpful. This allows (vary word choice here…allows?) students of all ages to express themselves clearly, which is crucial as they begin to age.
Over time it’s easy to get stuck in our patterns and tendencies. In yoga, you are continuously trying new things. In one class you might do a lunge with your back leg straight, and in the next you might do the same lunge with the back knee on the floor and focus on a completely different alignment principle. Yoga encourages exploration and the most creative expression of yourself. When you are playful and jovial while trying new things, it keeps life fresh and new.
In yoga you learn to take care of yourself first. Before you can help others, you have to be grounded and self-sufficient. When you feel good and stress-free, it shows in your mannerisms and how you recieve the world around you. With a positive perspective you can change your outlook from stuck in the pattern of judgment to understanding and empathy.
Connectivity & Community
Yoga communities consist of the young and old alike. All age groups benefit from each other’s company. When you’re in the company of like-minded people, you feel elevated by their positivity. It’s one of the few places where you can have a conversation and enjoy the company of a wide range of supportive people.
Yoga helps you accept who you are and where you stand in the life cycle, wherever you are in the aging process. When you’re practicing yoga, you are challenged physically and mentally to the point that you experience all the different feelings that come up in life. You become comfortable knowing your edge and limitations. When you fall out of a balancing pose in class, you learn to laugh it off and to not take yourself too seriously. Yoga helps you see the good first. You don’t have to focus on the negative in life. That would make life painstaking and difficult. Instead, yoga teaches you to savor your livelihood. So when the stakes are high, and life throws you a curve-ball, you can accept it with an open mind. Yoga helps you gracefully receive yourself. for who you are.
WIth a regular yoga practice, you reap the benefits that help keep you thriving and energized. It helps give you longevity. The physical practice clears back and joint pain. Through practice, you become more peaceful and enjoy better sleep. Eventually you make health-conscious decisions about your diet. Moving and exercising your body and mind maintains your overall health and wellness.