Let’s Talk YOGA
Yoga is a topic that seems to be on the lips of everyone today. It is near impossible to scroll through Facebook or Instagram without stumbling upon a picture of a friend in a yoga pose (usually on the beach) coupled with various hashtags and comments expounding the miraculous benefits of #yogaeverydamnday or his/her #yogabod.
The simple fact is that yoga is not for everyone. Furthermore, a yoga practice is by no means a miracle cure that can erase all of life’s physical and mental woes. This being said, yoga is a powerful practice to add to your wellness routine that can have transformative impacts on many mental and physical troubles. The scientific research validating yoga’s place in the pantheon of mental health prescriptions is rising. Most of the research points to yoga’s ability to decrease the harmful effects of depression, anxiety and traumatic stress by increasing the practitioner’s ability to manage stress and self-regulate the nervous system. A 2009 article published by Harvard Medical School (Yoga for anxiety and depression) provides a concise overview of some relatively new studies that specifically have tackled quantifying the impacts of yoga on individuals and groups struggling with a variety of mental health issues. The burgeoning research on mental health informed yoga is exciting in regards to its impacts of heart rate variability and neuroplasticity. I fully acknowledge that starting a yoga practice can be both intimidating and at times defeating. For those that have tried and subsequently been unable to cement a regular yoga practice OR for those looking to get started here my top 3 tips for getting started:
- Try on different style and studios – There are countless different approaches to yoga, just as many studios and thousands of online classes (my favorite is yogaglo.com). It takes time and commitment to find a studio, teachers and a community that you feel comfortable in. Rest assured that if you look hard enough there is assuredly an approach that will fit your needs.
- “Give it 2 months” – This is something I tell all new students and friends that come into my studio. Yoga, like other wellness practices AND psychotropic drugs, can take time to demonstrate its impact. Commit to practice for 3x a week for 2 months before you dump the practice.
- It’s just Yoga! – Do not confuse a serious practice with stoic teachers and flat-faced practitioners for a more advanced studio or the “ideal of yoga”. Throw away your serious practice and adopt a sincere approach, one where you can enjoy the many failures and triumphs that come along with exploring your life through a yogic lens.