Yoga is for Everyone!
As we make the transition from summer to fall, life can seem hectic and overwhelming as children head back to school, days shorten, and holidays are lurking around the corner. Our seasonal work operations are either ramping up or slowing down. Yet, the autumnal equinox can be simultaneously refreshing as the leaves turn and the air becomes crisp. Finding a balance and mindful enjoyment in this seasonal transition is not only beneficial to our overall health and wellbeing, but essential to developing personal satisfaction, motivation, and tranquility. Perhaps it’s appropriate that September has been designated as National Yoga Month by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Yoga is an ancient Eastern art, dating back approximately 5,000 years. However, it has recently experienced a boom in popularity in Western culture. DNC Parks & Resorts offers yoga classes at the Roosevelt Baths & Spa (Gideon Putnam Hotel), features a yoga room at Tenaya Lodge’s Ascent Spa, and partners with yoga instructors at other operations, including Yosemite and Yellowstone National Park. DNC Parks & Resorts even has some certified professional yoga instructors within its family:
- Kim Rossi: Spa Director at The Roosevelt Baths & Spa at the Gideon Putnam, Saratoga Springs is a Certified Kripalu and Kundalini Yoga Teacher and Certified Ayurvedic Consultant
- Heather Urkuski: IT Manager at Yellowstone National Park is Owner/Instructor at Breathelight Yoga Studio in Bozeman, Montana and a Certified YogaMotion and Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teacher
Yoga truly is for everyone, with varying practices to follow for different goals, whether relaxation and mindfulness, improved athletic performance, greater flexibility, or a combination of all the above. Different ‘styles’ of yoga all incorporate certain asanas (postures) and specific pranayama (breathing); some also offer a cleansing of the mind and body (shat karma), visualizations, meditation, mantras, and energy regulation (mudra and bandha). Many are quick to discount the practice of yoga as simply a spiritual centering or relaxation method, while others may feel intimidated by challenging poses or strenuous activity. Although these can be intentions and benefits of practice if desired, the physiological effects of yoga are far-reaching and include the following, according to Urkuski:
- Increased strength by improving muscle tone and endurance. Iyengar and Ahstanga are two branches of Hatha (asana-based) Yoga. Iyengar utilizes props such as blocks and straps to support the practitioner in proper alignment and for longer holds of the poses. Ashtanga offers a more vigorous asana practice, incorporating sun salutations and bandhas (energy locks).
- Greater flexibility by stretching muscles and connective tissue to increase range of motion and reduce stiffness. Restorative and Yin Yoga are particularly good practices for flexibility.
- Improved posture from increased strength and flexibility; a stronger core and body awareness promotes sitting and standing “tall”.
- Mindful breathing techniques that help to calm and focus the mind, regulate heart rate and blood pressure, and counter insomnia.
- Reduced stress and deeper relaxation from mindfully moving the body with the breath. Some yoga practices include meditation that can begin with simply focusing on the breath or a mantra.
As Urkuski explains, “there are no pre-requisites for yoga so you don’t need to touch your toes! You need only an open mind and a willingness to practice. Yoga can be a simple and accessible as sitting still while consciously breathing for five minutes, or lying on the floor while swinging your legs up the wall after a busy day.”
Rossi states that “the idea is not to feel restricted. The idea is to feel infinite” and further draws a connection between the Kundalini practice and the sun; both “purify a person to give an experience of our own purity, own piety, own strength, own totality, own identity, own infinity… uncoil the dormant self into the aware self.”
So whether you are looking for a way to relax or reinvigorate, an athlete looking to stretch out, or just trying to live a more conscious life, try some yoga; grab a mat and ease your way into it! For beginner poses link here and to find balance this fall link here.