02
Nov
12

blip: yoga for normal people

So this is a blog entry about yoga.  And everything in your being wants to not be reading it.  But you were drawn to the charming images of Hanna-Barbera’s fedora wearing, Jersey factory worker talking, syllable adding, ranger pestering bear paying homage to his namesake.  Common assumption (ie Wikipedia) would have you believe that this cartoon was named after similarly frisky famous baseball personality Yogi Berra.  But I would have you believe that Yogi Bear was named after the great tradition of yoga and is in fact a great yogi rivaling the swamis of the ancient east in his ability to find zen in the stretch and meaning in the flow.

And, I’ve lost you.  This is precisely why you hate yoga.  People start talking about the flow, the energy, the chi, the namaste.  This kind of mystic voodoo is not for you.  That’s fine.  We’ll take it down a notch and step away from any spiritual implications of yoga.  As westerners, we can strip any tradition of its original spiritual significance and substitute our own or none at all, that is our magna carta.  So putting aside all the meditational qualities, what is left? The mental focus? Yeah, that’s what coffee is for. The physical act of twisting yourself into tormented pretzel shapes?  Bingo.

Yes.  I realize that is a hard sell to someone who has never tried yoga. Downward dog.  Warrior one. Mountain pose.  It sounds like more mumbo jumbo.  But at the heart of any yoga routine worth it’s Shiva is a series of gentle movements and focused breathing that brings significant advantage to your body.  The simple act of learning to pay attention to breathing was revolutionary to me when I first tried yoga approximately five years ago.  This was my first yoga class, and I still go to it when I need my yoga fix:  http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4628036076291757842  .Learning to breathe and stretch along to the calm voice of this online yoga instructor did a lot for me after the birth of my fourth child.  Before yoga, I could not touch my toes.  My flexibility has increased by 1000 percent. The stretching out of my awkward limbs I feel has helped me maintain lean muscle, fight back pain, stave off anxiety, and gain strength.  Not to mention inner peace.  Yoga is supposed to be good for lowering blood pressure, general heart health, asthma, and even schizophrenia, if that’s what ails you. And did I mention there are fun and wonderful accessories and outfits to go along with your yoga-ing?  Yoga mats with swirly lotus designs, music oozing other worldly serenity, and yoga pants.  If for no other reason, try yoga for the pants.  They are the comfiest article of clothing on the planet.

Of course there is also the coolness factor.  Yoga doesn’t have to be just for yuppies or acorn worshipers or male models with Scandinavian accents or women in Nike ads with zero percent body fat.  Yoga can be for housewives, blue-collar folks, children, red-blooded Americans: Anyone who is wanting to maintain their physical self no matter what their fitness level, can do yoga.  Should do yoga.  I mean, for God’s sake, at least try it.  There are points to be scored somewhere for the mere attempting of a yoga session.  And you never know, it might be just your thing.  You might like it so much, you need your own yogi name.

There’s a website for that too: shinewithyoga.com/whats-your-yogi-name/

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