What is Yoga?
Yoga was discovered in India thousands of years ago, as a path to “moksha” or liberation. It is a comprehensive blend of movement, stillness, concentration, relaxation & awareness.
Injury, Illness, Yoga and You
I have had many conversations with people returning to yoga that are on the mend or at the start of a minor or major healing journey. There are often questions like "is it suitable/appropriate?" or "how should i proceed?". Below is a compilation of information from those conversations. My intention with this musing is to give you some tools in order to better support your current practice and/or give you a direction when something new comes up with your body.
1. First, and foremost, talk to your Health Care Professional (HCP): your Doctor/GP and/or your physical health practitioner/body specialist (chiropractor/physiotherapist/kinesiologist/etc). Get clear about what is happening in your body and get clear advice on what sorts of movements to do and not to do (based on your current situation). They are the ones with the big medical and/or anatomy backgrounds that can assess and recommend. Talk about (and even show them) the kinds of things you do in your yoga class. (even better, invite them to join your class!) Did your HCP recommend yoga? Get details - what kind? how often? And, keep in mind that some of the HCPs that are recommending "yoga" have never practised themselves or don't have enough experience/vocabulary to properly recommend an appropriate style or teacher. I read a stat that said there are over 80 different styles of Yoga out there now! So, we might need to educate them.
2. If your body is going through something, there might also be negative feelings (fear, apprehension, anger, resentment, uncertainty) associated with this something - it can affect your practice. Talk with your Mental Health Professional (counselor/psychotherapist/etc) or your spiritual adviser (priest/etc) or access other tools you might have to process this. I.E. If there is a fear of experiencing pain or injury, it is much harder to stay open and focused. The body might guard or try to protect, creating inhibited movement or you might just be distracted with these thoughts and not easily hear or understand instructions. I know some people say injuries/illness only affects the physical body, but I don't believe that. I have seen it in class and I have felt it myself.
When you have this base of information, it can begin to build knowledge about yourself and the practice but it can also build confidence. Then, you can take that onto your yoga mat (in class or at home). You can also have a more informed chat with the yoga (or other body movement class) instructor.
3. Group fitness classes are exactly that - group classes. An attendee might not be able to receive one-on-one attention - whether it is a yoga, aerobics or dance class. Yes, there is a responsibility for the instructor to present a class that is safe and hopefully will fill the needs of some of the various styles of learning, levels of experience and body types present. It is also the responsibility of us, the attendees, to do the best we can in informing ourselves and acknowledging that we may not have all of our needs met. We also must remember/know that the possibility of injury is always present, even in yoga.
4. We have this one body for our entire life. There are things that we need to do everyday for our whole lives, like eating, and some not so obvious things like body/mind support regimes. I know many students (myself included) that have received specific exercises from their health practitioner(s) that can support or be a companion to a yoga practice. I do my support exercises (almost) every day and I often do my exercises before yoga class so my body (and mind) are ready. And when i don't do them, i am aware of the difference.
This can be the hardest part. Taking care of ourselves Every Day for the Rest of Our Lives.
It is called Yoga "Practice" for that very reason.
5. Lastly, something that I have worked with myself and taught my students and friends for many years is The 60% Rule. Try everything at 60% (effort or pace) of what "normal" is for you. If you can bend forward and touch your toes, that is your 100%. Try bend forward and only touch your shins - go 60% of the way. If you can do 5 shoulder circles in 30 seconds, maybe only do 3, maybe do them 60% slower than usual.
This is a fabulous tool to use when recovering from injury or illness, when going into a new class or pose, when tired/foggy/over energized, or when you just need to humble yourself.
How to prepare for Yoga class:
Arrive early. Allow yourself time to change, get settled & ask questions,
if you have any.
Let your instructor know about anything that might affect your practice (injury, hip replacements, high blood pressure, etc.)
It is advisable to contact your physician before beginning a new
Please do not eat within 2 hours of your practice; if you must, eat small & light, giving your body time to digest.
Wear comfortable clothing that allows you to move freely.
Yoga is (mostly) done in bare feet...but some spaces can be cool so some of us leave socks on until we come to standing or need the support of the sticky mat. If you chill easily, wear layers and bring a blanket or towel to cover up with during our ending relaxation.
Please be respectful of others by avoiding perfumes, colognes, heavily scented laundry detergents and fabric softeners.
Please turn off anything that rings or beeps or leave cell phones at home.
Respect where you are at. Each day is different both emotionally & physically. Allow your practice to honour that.
Make a commitment to your health. Try practising 3x a week for the most benefit. On days you can’t attend a class, try a mini practice at home or even at work.
Yoga and Scents
This was originally sent out to my email list. I am adding it here to make it accessible and shareable.
When we attend a yoga class, on the surface, we might be looking for a good stretch, some deep breathing, a calmer mind and even social connection. Under that, we are also looking for a safe, comfortable, welcoming and inclusive experience. As your instructor, I do as much as I know how to do in order to make that happen. I often bring subjects up before or even during class to consider or even experience. I'd like to take that a step further with this musing.
The topic of this conversation starter is on scents and fragrances.
Over the years, some of our yoga members (students and staff) have reported being impacted by scents/fragrances present during a class. I usually remind everyone of the scent-free and fragrance-free policy that
The City of Courtenay has but I wanted to take that a step further with this email inquiry.
Did you know that there are 1-4 people in every class that has a (minor or major) sensitivity &/or allergy to fragrances & scents?
In some people, fragrances can cause respiratory distress (asthma attacks, coughing, hay fever, and shortness of breath), headaches/migraines, nausea, loss of concentration, skin reactions, dizziness and even anxiety.
In others, scents can simply cause distraction - a scent that appeals to me/uplifts me may not appeal to/uplift another person. And too many scents in a room can feel disorienting.
I know many of you have taken steps to change (and thanks for letting me know)- like using unscented hand creams and lotions and going without perfume. Thank you! I also know some of you wash your yoga clothes in unscented laundry detergent and use unscented fabric softener/dryer sheets. Thank you. Your sacrifices are appreciated.
PS, The top 4 'triggers' I hear about are scented fabric softeners/dryer sheets, scented laundry detergents, perfumes and scented lotions/creams.
For those of you that have not yet tried reducing scents, are you
If yes, here are a couple web sites I found with helpful information.
For those of you that suffer around fragrances or scents, check these out - perhaps they can direct you towards ease:
http://www.dnrsystem.com/bio.html (I've met Annie Hopper. Her story and the work she does is incredible. )
And lastly, as we are all a part of this community, I encourage you to approach me (or your fellow yogi) in a positive and kind manner and share. Share your concerns about a product you are wearing or about a scented product being worn.
hugs to you all!