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From the mommy desk…
With full disclosure, I have been teaching yoga for 3 years, and I cannot imagine not having the practice of yoga in my life, or trying to maintain a level of physical fitness without yoga. I meet moms all the time who feel either stressed out or out-of shape, or both. I urge them and other moms out there to try a yoga class!
I find that people are often confused about what yoga is and what it is not. First, yoga is not a religion. There is a common misconception that yoga is rooted in Hinduism, but in reality Hinduism’s religious structures evolved much later, adopting only some of the practices of yoga. No one knows exactly when yoga began, but it certainly predates written history. Stone carvings depicting figures in yoga positions have been found in archeological sites in the Indus Valley dating back 5,000 years or more. Today, yoga is practiced in both the Eastern and Western world by people of all religious backgrounds. In my classes at Everyday Yoga, I incorporate prayer and Christian meditation in my classes.
Next, many people think that yoga is just stretching, and while stretching is certainly involved, yoga is not just about improving flexibility. It also builds strength, muscle tone and balance. During a class, students perform a variety of poses or postures, each of which has specific physical benefits. The poses can be done quickly in succession, creating heat in the body through movement (known as vinyasa style yoga) or more slowly, which build stamina. The beginner student and the master are both doing the same poses but the technical difficulty depends on how deeply the practitioner is in the pose, the muscle tension and control exerted, and the length of time the pose is held in perfect alignment.
So, what does yoga mean? The word yoga means “union” in Sanskrit, the language of ancient India. The “union” is a melding of the mind, body and spirit. What is commonly referred to as “yoga” can be more accurately described by the Sanskrit word “asana”, which refers to the practice of physical postures or poses. Although many yoga instructors use a combination of Sanskrit words and English to describe the poses, at Everyday Yoga, I only use the Western names of poses to make my students feel more comfortable and to make my classes easier to follow.
But the most important aspect of any yoga practice is breathing. In yoga we focus on the breath to calm the body as well as to energize the body. Equally important in yoga is the aspect of “letting go.” In class I encourage my students to let go of judgment, expectations and competition not just with other students but mainly with themselves.
One of my most favorite things about yoga is it is always changing and evolving, so it never gets boring. Moreover, almost anyone can start a yoga practice, even if you don’t feel like you are very flexible or very strong, by attending weekly classes eventually flexibility, strength and balance will develop.
If you are looking to lose weight and improve your muscle tone, yoga may be the ideal form of exercise for you. You do not have to be already in great shape to do yoga; in fact, it’s really the other way around. Yoga is a great way to get into shape, because it greatly improves your muscle tone.
If you would like to try out yoga or come back to practicing yoga, please come to Everyday Yoga. Classes are Monday and Thursday mornings at 8:30 am at the PCT Centre, located at 115 Clarksville Street (the old Reep’s Furniture Store). Classes are just $5 and no pre-registration is required. Or visit my website at www.everydayyogaparis.com
From one Mommy to another,
Jenny Wilson is a mother of three. She teaches a Mommy & Me class at Central Presbyterian Day School, is a member of the Paris ISD school board and serves on the board of Paris Community Theatre and Children’s Advocacy Center. She also is on the PCT Children/Teen Theatre Advisory Committee, the Aiken Parent Association Board, the PJH Parent Association and is a Sunday school teacher at Holy Cross Episcopal Church. She also is a certified yoga instructor and owner of Everyday Yoga.