There’s a four letter word people like to throw around. Like many of these words some people think they know what it means, some just use it to describe a wide variety of things and some really have no idea what it is. While this word can be used in a general way of description, it actually has a true meaning. What is it? YOGA!
Yoga is a term used by many to describe a type of physical activity that involves “stretching,” and while that is somewhat true, yoga is more than just stretching and lying on the ground. Don’t get us wrong, you do hold a posture that elongates the muscles and most classes close with a horizontal position, but there is more going on than meets the eye. Yoga can be a hard thing to perfectly package into one little explanation, but this is how the Yoga Alliance does on their website: https://www.yogaalliance.org/About_Yoga/What_is_Yoga
“Answering the question, “What is Yoga?” is challenging and is the subject of extensive academic and philosophical study…Yoga was developed up to 5,000 years ago in India as a comprehensive system for wellbeing on all levels: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. While Yoga is often equated with Hatha Yoga, the well-known system of postures and breathing techniques…Yoga is a system, not of beliefs, but of techniques and guidance for enriched living…As in any field, some aspects of Yoga are too subtle to be learned from books or lectures; they must be acquired through experience. Hence Yoga’s time-honored emphasis on the student-teacher relationship, in which the teacher helps the student develop a practice that brings deeper understanding through personal experience.” With all that being said, you might more easily call yoga a practice of breath, body and mind. It is called a “practice” because there is no real end to yoga, each time you practice is a different experience and your breath, body and mind may respond in different ways.
You may be asking yourself, “well who does this ‘yoga’ anyway?” Great questions. The Yoga Journal (www.yogajournal.com) published this, “The latest Yoga in America study shows that 20.4 million Americans practice yoga, compared to 15.8 million from the previous 2008 study, an increase of 29 percent…The 2012 study indicates that 8.7% of U.S. adults or 20.4 million people practice yoga. Of current non-practitioners, 44.4% of Americans call themselves “aspirational yogis”—people who are interested in trying yoga.” That’s a whole lot of people! What’s even more interesting is that almost 45% of Americans say they are aspiring to be a person who does yoga! That’s got to tell us there is more than meets the eye when it comes to this “practice.”
If millions of people are doing it and almost half of our population aspires to do it, we have to wonder what makes it so great. Here at The Wellness Center we offer over a dozen yoga classes a week because we understand the high demand for high quality yoga practice in our community. Our classes welcome all “bodies” to come and practice this life changing and balancing (of mind and body) experience. Each class is different and yet similar. Unlike many facilities, all staff at The Wellness Center teaching Yoga must be trained and certified in this specialty so we can make sure that our clients are getting the best and safest experience possible. Each class starts by welcoming everyone to “practice,” and to do what they can do in the class that day. You may hear an instructor say, “see what is available to you in this posture,” meaning, some people may come into class flexible like Gumby and others may be recovering from an injury or surgery, but they are all encouraged to see what is best for them at that moment.
Although we can’t speak for anyone else, at The Wellness Center yoga is never a competition or a game of seeing who can do what. We encourage our participants to keep their awareness on their own breath, body and mat. Our greatest pleasure is hearing feedback that they totally forgot about the other people in the room, or they were able to finally shut out passing thoughts and just be. Yoga is a practice of different postures that allow you to “just be” in the moment. It can be very freeing to move your body in a safe and controlled space while not having to worry about anything else, not what you are wearing or look like or what you need to do after class, etc. You can just be.
September is National Yoga Month and what better way to celebrate than to try some yoga! This month we welcome anyone to join us in any of our yoga classes for a free class to just see and sample what yoga is or perhaps what yoga isn’t. Just mention this article when you come and join us for a practice. You can call Mary at 334-5566, check out our website at www.northcountryhospital.org/wellness, or our Facebook page for classes and times. It doesn’t matter what gender you are, how old you are, what your education or fitness level is or anything like that. If you have a body than we think you are a yoga body! Because we believe that health, wellness and yoga are for every body! Come celebrate with us this month, free yoga for every body!
Director of The Wellness Center