After completing my 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training I hope that I learned more than eight things, of course I did! But I wanted to share eight ‘big ones’ to honor Patanjali’s expression of the eight limbs of yoga, AKA how to live a fulfilled life.
I had to practice some serious dharana (the sixth limb of yoga), which is more widely known as concentration to make it through the four month training at Yoga Pod The Woodlands. I had to get my mind right before each training session, which was tough but I got better as the year progressed.
Yoga Is Not Reserved Skinny Bi-atches
I’ve worked in the fitness industry for about ten years but not until a few years ago when I started practicing yoga on a regular basis did I shake my idea of a ‘yogi’. Stick thin blonde. White leggings and white sports bra. Meditating on a beach. One of those ‘perfect’ ideals in my head that exist for a choice few things.
Yep, that’s what I thought a true yoga chick looked like. Until I started frequenting more yoga classes. And what did I see? Totally normal people did yoga too. Participants and instructors were also spectacularly imperfect. There were even men in class. It does take balls to practice yoga!
I believe the best affect of the body positivity movement is seeing ‘regular’ looking people teaching in the fitness world like Anna Guest-Jelley of Curvy Yoga, Alex Van Frank (who I found on yoga subscription Yoga Glo), and Valerie Sagun of Big Gal Yoga.
Slowing Down is Life Changing
Yoga (specifically Restorative Yoga) helped me realize how overly busy, to-do list oriented and ‘never say die’ my lifestyle was. I am a high energy individual, I slow down only to watch my favorite TV shows (but lets be honest I multi task while I do that), take my annual Christmas nap and sleep at nigh.
Yoga brings balance to my life. No, not all yoga classes are slow and soothing like some may think but the gentle, restorative and yin style classes are my favorite. I began to analyze why, I mean I LOVE going hard core with everything else in my life but I kept being drawn to the slower paced yoga practices.
Then it hit me. I am a crazed energy junkie and yoga was ever so subtly telling me that being still and honoring presence was needed in my life. So I listened. And now I know the overwhelming joy of breathing into stillness. Which ties into fourth limb of yoga is pranayama, life force extension/breath control. Breathing along with my practice helps with stress management, sleep patterns and overall giddiness.
My Down Dog Ain’t Your Down Dog (and that’s okay!)
We watched a wonderful series of Paul Grilley yoga anatomy DVD’s that showed a handful of individuals is varying yoga poses. We saw through these examples that full expressions of a yoga poses can look drastically different. Bone structure. Flexibility. Body composition. Alignment. All of these factors come to play when it comes to settling into a yoga posture.
The third limb of yoga, asana (AKA yoga poses/postures), is one of the most widely known limbs of yoga. Stand tall with your ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and neck in alignment. Rest your arms down by your side with palms facing out. You are engaged in an asana, or yoga pose, named tadasana. That’s mountain pose for the layman.
You Don’t Have To Be a Buddhist to Practice Yoga
This was a great point of knowledge because many people I’ve tried to invite to yoga have resisted, and I always ask why. I’ve heard ‘I don’t want to chant to a God I don’t believe in’, ‘I’m not buddhist’ ‘I don’t understand all the words the teachers use’. I know, these questions may seem a little crazy! One of the niyamas (the second limb of yoga) is isvara pranidhana, or surrender to God. Which sounds like worship or prayer, right?
Yoga is a religion of it’s own in a way. You can flow with Jesus or any God by your side as far as I’m concerned! Every class and every studio handles the ‘divine’ differently and some not at all. But most teachers will cite that your practice is YOUR practice.
You do what you want and you dedicate your practice to whom you love and move in a way that your body loves. This goes for the divinity of the yoga practice as well. Chanting in sanskrit is not a part of every class. But if you go to a class and feel uncomfortable with anything you can dismiss yourself from that activity. You’re an adult and you are in charge of your life!
Stay tuned for part two, still four more to go!
Photos by Eurri Kim Photography
Did you enjoy this blogpost? Please consider commenting or sharing via e-mail/social media. Guaranteed Giddy is a transformation destination where women come to reclaim their confidence!
Would you like to work one on one with Alli? Click here to see giddy transformation offerings, which include personal training, life coaching and nutrition consulting.