As far as bending into a pretzel goes, I practice yoga with veterans, inmates, people who are struggling with emotional as well as physical challenges beyond the average, people who don’t want to enter a yoga studio as a starting place. I’m deeply inspired by people challenged with paralysis, or with an ankle fused by a bullet, or anyone who has to take great effort to arrive on their mat. I think that if they can find a way to practice yoga, everyone can. It’s not about flexibility or having the perfect body. it’s a matter of finding a teacher who will start with the basic postures and technique while incorporating breath and storytelling to include many beneficial aspects of yoga.
Like many people, when I started my practice, I was looking for more physical strength, flexibility and exercise, and to enhance my dancing. The beauty of yoga is that it has many benefits other than the physical that have a way of creeping in through the physical with the artistry of a good teacher. The postures alone are a just exercise without incorporation of breath regulation and proper technique. Why is that important? And why on earth would my wish be for everyone to take up yoga?
Postures were recorded as part of the yoga Sutras in 200 AD, the very first records of yoga from the Indus valley date back to 3000 BCE. These postures were not just developed simply for fun and exercise; they are highly developed with specific intent. That they are ancient yet thriving is proof in the pudding. The breath is an active part, paired with highly developed postures practiced today by pop stars, in schools, yoga studios, health clubs, even prisons, just to mention a few places you’ll find yoga in modern time. There is good reason for this blooming interest in yoga. The combination of breath paired with yoga postures connects the body and mind promoting better physical health. Science has shown great value to our health in the mind body connection. Yoga is a wonderful way of creating this connection. Breathing exercises regulate the central nervous system, and stimulate the pre frontal cortex quieting the limbic (fight or flight) area of the brain. This is part of why yoga is beneficial for alleviating symptoms in people with PTSD. Yoga helps us chill out, mindfully, with intention and sustainability.
Yoga can have the same effect on all of us. Our lives are full of distractions and stress. Imagine if we all learned to take a moment and take a breath before we spoke or acted. This is simply one of the many things that yoga can help us do, one of the ways it connects the mind and body. Imagine a world where everyone acted more mindfully. Think back to a moment in your life when you reacted without pause, a moment when you wish you had a “do over”. What if you had taken a moment to calm? What if someone had taught you to do that as a child? The outcome may have changed your life.
This is why my one wish would be that everyone could have a yoga practice. It doesn’t matter what you look like or who you are, just try it! Who knows, it could be a small step toward changing the world, at the very least it might just change yours.
Christine Moore can be found at Boulder Body Wear, or visit www.christinemooreshimmyogini.com