March 4th, 2019

DO I HAVE TO BE FLEXIBLE TO DO YOGA? Part I

As a yoga teacher, I hear it all too often. An apology, clause, and excuse:

“But I’m not very flexible”, “I can’t touch my toes”, “Yoga- isn’t that the thing I saw on some talk show where a guy wrapped his legs around his head?”, and: “I’m too old/fat/insert pejorative here to do that!”.

The truth is, you CAN- and will benefit from- yoga, regardless of your size, age, or any other physical distinguishing factors. In fact, when I first came to yoga, I had little awareness of its association with a certain type of body. Yoga was one of the choices offered to fulfill the physical education requirement at my liberal arts college, and as an active but not particularly athletic person, it appealed to me more than choices like basketball or tennis. The class was held in a gymnasium free of frills. Class was held without music. The teacher wore simple clothes, and so did my classmates, who usually headed straight from yoga to religious courses, and were dressed accordingly in modest clothing. The asana (physical postures) we learned were simple but challenging. Most classes ended with pranayama, or breathwork, a vital component of  yoga practice that is often a footnote in the fitness-oriented classes commonly found in the West.

It was only later, as I outgrew my college requirement and began to attend classes, that I realized many bodies were  missing from the yoga class. Usually bigger bodies, older bodies, non-white bodies. And I saw many teachers encouraging the most advanced version of a pose even when students were struggling or showing poor alignment in basic variations of the pose.

My training in Gentle Therapeutics Yoga was a return to my roots of recognizing that yoga is a process, just as life is. It’s not about whether you can do that fancy arm balance (or touch your toes), not about whether you look a certain way, but rather about meeting your body where it is TODAY to nourish and challenge it. Of course, feeling good in our respective body shapes, strengths and mobilities can be part of the equation, but it’s only one part.

April 2nd, 2019

Why Private Yoga?

The benefits of private yoga are so intuitive to me that I sometimes forget they aren’t to other people! This recently occurred to me when I mentioned private yoga to a friend and was met with a bemused inquiry about why someone would make this choice. Herewith is what I told my friend (and it clearly resonated, as she is now a private client!):

  1. The convenience factor: Many of us actually really like exercise, but just can’t seem to make it to a class because the studio schedule doesn’t align with ours. I fit into this particular category. I faithfully and gamely attended studio yoga classes for years before having a child. Fast-forward to the present, as primary caregiver to a two year old, and most classes coincide with my daycare drop-off and bedtimes. If you are a parent, this may sound familiar. And if you are a busy professional, you may have a similar challenge of competing with commuting time, early am business meetings, or late nights at the office. Private yoga removes this barrier by creating a time just for you, at a time that works for you.

  2. The accountability factor: This is another very popular reason for choosing private yoga. You know you would benefit from yoga, you DO have the time, but you struggle to prioritize self-care or hate any sort of exercise. This is where, plain and simple, having someone come to your home to enforce this time for yourself, is invaluable. With a weekly or biweekly investment set up, there is no easy out from taking care of yourself. In addition, the custom aspect of private yoga means you can create a routine that is enjoyable and sustainable for you.

  3. The accessibility factor: Maybe you have a recent injury or illness that needs special attention? Maybe you have never exercised before, or are larger-bodied, and worry that you won’t feel comfortable in a group class? In a private yoga session, you don’t have to worry about injuring yourself or distracting comparisons to others. A good private yoga instructor will the entire session so that you feel safe, supported, and empowered!

  4. The personalized factor: The final and overarching reason for a private yoga session is an experience uniquely tailored to your goals, interest, and preferences. Each of my private client sessions looks a little different. Some client’ goals include back-bending, while others include reducing back pain. Some love a long, guided meditation with imagery, where others prefer to lie quietly. The list of varying preferences for type of yoga, meditation, music, and even essential oil use, goes on and on…. As it should! As a private yoga client, it’s YOUR perogative to pick and choose.