A week ago (June 4, 2017), I had fun sharing my daily yoga practice with my Wellesley College classmates. In the above 2 photos, I demonstrate the bow and the half-locust poses.
I try to avoid using cliches, however, it's hard not to focus on how the years have zipped by when you attend your 40th college class reunion. As one of my classmates exclaimed, "where did 40 years go?!"
No matter how many years go by and as long as I possibly can, hopefully, until the day I "dance off the planet" (as 97-year young yoga instructor, Tao-Porchon Lynch says what she plans to do when her time is up), I will continue to practice yoga.
During the plans for the reunion, I was asked to give a yoga class and I agreed, emphasizing that I would share SLOW, GENTLE poses best suited to beginners, period. And, that's what I did in the 45-minute session on a (finally, after numerous gray days) bright, sunny Sunday.
At the beginning of the class I shared my key tenets of a daily home yoga practice:
1) "Slo' mo is the way to go" - I move into and out of yoga poses slowly and deliberately. This allows you to really FEEL the pose.
2) "The power of the pause" - take a short break (often going into the "child pose" as a relaxation poses between other poses) between each pose to allow your muscles to regroup and recover from a stretch.
3) "No pain or strain is all gain" in a gentle hatha yoga practice. Challenge yourself, but never push, tug, or force your body into a pose. A few years ago, according to an article in the Yoga Journal, over 16,000 people enter emergency rooms every year because of injuries sustained in a yoga class - no doubt the result of trying to go further than the body was ready to do
4) Inhale and exhale deeply while practicing. Synchronizing your breath with your movements enhances the energy boost you gain after a yoga session.
Some of my classmates are real athletes. Others may have not done too much physical exercise recently.
Whatever level they were, my classmates enjoyed the poses I shared - as apprehensive as I was in providing instruction that may have been "too basic". I received many compliments after the class. People told me how great they felt.
One classmate told me that during the final Savasana pose (the sponge pose I call it - when you lie on your back and totally relax for several minutes at the end of a session), as she listened to the relaxing yoga music - strong feelings welled up inside her. And a gush of tears flowed. Yes - in addition to its physical benefits, yoga can at times, release a much needed emotional release of pent up feelings.
In sharing my yoga practice with my college classmates, I realized once again, that indeed, you do not have to do the most complex, pretzel yoga poses to benefit greatly from yoga. Start with wherever you are, move gently, and consistently, inhale and exhale deeply, and you may just forget that 40 years have elapsed since you finished college!
Yours for enjoying gentle hatha yoga,
Laura Venecia Rodriguez, the yoga at home coach for beginners