Yoga For Everyone
By P. Casey Maples, E-RYT 500, YACEP
I have been guiding those who are interested in yoga for more than 25 years, and almost 14 years with the Village community. Still, I am tickled and humbled at how much there is to learn and apply! As my greatest yoga teacher says, “Evolve and help others evolve.”
My Yoga Reverie
I was a weird kid. I was the youngest of my siblings by a lot. My mom was a single parent. She was a grade-school teacher and a wonderful teacher to me, besides being the greatest mom in the world. She taught me to read before I started elementary school. My sisters and brother might have gotten sidelined with babysitting me, but I was a pretty easy kid when I had a book around.
In my teens, I found a really old book, Raja Yoga, but I can’t tell you where I found it. It could have been one of the used book or record stores I traded with frequently. Even though I had a pretty good handle on the idea of yoga, this book hooked me — line and sinker. I was reading “philosophy” like Jim Morrison’s biography, “No One Here Gets Out Alive,” and books by Edgar Cayce on the capabilities of the mind. This “Raja Yoga” book fit right in! Postures were simple enough for me, but much less fascinating than mind stuff. That’s how I began exploring yoga with a great appetite.
Yoga for Everyone? Yes, really!
I believe a good chunk of the world would have an answer for at least a part of what yoga is or means. Even though it is thousands of years old, it is most likely that we, here in our country, think of yoga that has been around for 100 years or less. In the ‘50s and ‘60s, asana (poses/postures) and mindfulness (think “The Beatles and Transcendental Meditation”) began flowering into modern consciousness. What has transpired since is, well, transcendental. Classes today are brimming with practitioners seeking yoga’s physical or mental benefits (or both), whether in person or online. Go to India or go to your family room and it is readily available in a plentitude of offerings. Is there a yoga for you? If you are open to the idea of becoming better, then yes!
Danny, Village Member since 2020
Danny shares his yoga journey at the Village saying,
“When I started practicing yoga in my fifties, I felt like the new kid in class — a portly, middle-aged guy in a room full of lithe young women who could pretzel themselves with ease. Meanwhile, I struggled to touch my toes. In time, I learned to let the comparisons go and focus on my own body and what it is telling me about the life I am living. Yoga is a long garden. I hoe slowly and thoughtfully, knowing I am not looking for instant results or endorphin rushes. The practice has shown me how to be present and listen to my body, to admire what it is capable of — if I allow it — and to quiet my mind and shed the cares of the day.
I like the ritual, the community, the serenity. It is a practice, a process, a being, not a goal. It is my time, just for me, a part of my day and my life, a way of making sure my body and I can continue to travel the road together. If I feel a twinge, an ache, a tightness, I have learned to hear and accept it. That is how I am today and it’s okay. Tomorrow will be something else — and that will be okay as well.”
Lori, Village Member since 2008
And this is what yoga is to Lori,
“Yoga is an integral part of my life for so many reasons. When I stopped dancing after college, my body began to hurt. I wasn’t elongating, stretching and building core strength and balance. It was really hard for me to start yoga in 2005. I couldn’t shut my mind down. I was frustrated. It took a solid year for me to look forward to going to classes, but I stuck with it. I had to discover a way to shut off and just be, even if I couldn’t do the moves. Yoga taught me how to do that. I believe I am in the best shape of my life right now.”
Like Lori, a lot of yoga practitioners are cross training their minds and bodies with other disciplines (HIIT, Pilates, dance, water fitness and more) while finding the rewards of yoga enable them to perform safer, with fewer injuries and better recovery episodes. Because it is adaptable, beginners and experienced participants share in classes equally. This holds true for mindfulness yoga (practices without postures) and the many variations of physical yoga (asana).
Get Out of the Way!
The hardest part about yoga initially is all the activity in the mind. That is the mind’s job — to be active. Yoga ultimately is calming the crazy waves of the mind so that we can get over ourselves and realize that we are the master of our minds, not the reverse. Yoga has many practices and principles that everyone can understand and use to create a better life — a life that is not bound by reacting to what’s going on around us, but one that is rich in what is real within us. Sound intriguing?
From my experience (which is essential, by the way, in yoga) I can tell you yoga is a valuable tool in this life we have if you choose to add it to your box. I have used it successfully in my life for many years. I keep getting better — and keep becoming a better human — because of what I have learned and applied and what I continue to learn and apply. Yoga can change the mind and those changes radiate to the physical body, regardless of your choice of practice.
The Village has many choices of yoga classes. The Club has included yoga in its line-up well before I began here 14 years ago with the Valley’s finest and brightest teachers. Whether you want to explore the relaxing, slow and restorative practices, the heated flows or stretch ones or any other of the multiple daily Village offerings, all you have to do is get out of your own way and give it a try!