My name is Jen Derham. I am a St. Michael resident, School Psychologist, Yoga Instructor, Owner of Blue Lotus Yoga Retreats, and mother of two. I am passionate about yoga, and mental health awareness. I also love to travel, read, learn, and spend time with my family.
I wanted to start this blog to bring a greater awareness of yoga to others and increase its accessibility. This blog will include information I have gleaned from personal research, experience, yoga training and yoga classes I have taken. I will also include my personal opinion.
There are a myriad of ways in which yoga improves both physical and mental well-being. For now, I will address some of the misconceptions about yoga.
Many think yoga is for people who an tie themselves in knots, or for those who are very athletic. One of the wonderful things about yoga is that it is about doing what you can with your body today, where you are at right now. Good instructors will give you the options you need to make yoga work for you. There are no judgments about where you are at physically. As with any form of exercise, consult your doctor first if you have any specific health conditions.
Many people become frustrated when they first try yoga, because they can’t engage in some of the more challenging poses others in class can. This leads me to another misconception-the idea that yoga is an “easy” class for stretching. If you have never jogged before, you wouldn’t expect to complete a marathon on your first run, but yet sometimes people feel they should be able to do the equivalent in yoga. I once heard an instructor say, “Comparison kills contentment.” Many of my regulars hear me repeat this mantra in my classes. When you compare yourself to others you either feel above others or inferior, neither of which is beneficial.
Yes, one of the benefits of yoga in increased flexibility, and yes, there are classes out there that focus on stretching alone, but the beauty of yoga is that there are classes out there that will also challenge your strength, mental focus, and balance, if that is what you seek. Yoga can be modified to suit all levels. When in doubt, ask the instructor about the content of the class.
Some worry that because some elements of yoga are rooted in Hindu Buddhist traditions, that it will conflict with their religion. Yoga often includes meditation which helps to calm the body and mind. Meditation has been shown to help reduce stress levels and symptoms of anxiety. During this time, one can opt to simply focus on their breathing, or pray to a higher power should they believe in one. There are no absolutes or rules. You are free to pick and choose to make your yoga practice your own. Yoga is not a religion. I feel that including a spiritual component enhances one’s practice, but again, the choice is yours whether you pray to God or Krishna.
So why do yoga? More on that next time.
In the meantime namaste, (Namaste is a salutation indicating reverence or respect for the person being greeted. Some interpret is at as one’s soul acknowledging another’s soul. It is derived from Sanskrit, one of the languages originating in the sub-continent of India.)