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Home / Articles / Columnists / Fitness by Larisa /  What is Yoga All About?
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Thursday, August 2,2018

What is Yoga All About?

By Larisa Klein  
Here are some of my favorite reasons for not doing Yoga.

“I have to lose weight before I start exercising.” (Hm?) “I’m just not flexible enough to do Yoga!” (C’mon!) “Yoga is for girls.” (HEY!) “I hate not being able to do stuff.

I’m gonna feel so stupid.” (We’ve all been there.)

“I have to get some energy first.”

(Breeeeeathe) “I’m too busy to exercise.” (Can’t work if you have a heart attack from stress accumulated from overworking...)

“I can’t sit still… ” (This is the root of ALL of mankind’s problems.)

“It’s just too boring.” (Hooked on distractions much?) “My arms are too short” (Nope.

That would be your hamstrings.)

“My body just doesn’t do that.”

(What if it did? What else could you do?) “I’m afraid I’m going to hurt myself.” (So don’t. Listen to your body and you’ll be fine.)

“I don’t want to wear tights!” (Fully supportive of your choice!) “I don’t do that chanting, woo-woo weird stuff.” (Ok. This one I get. Not all classes and teachers do that because, yes, it’s way far out of many people’s comfort zones and Yoga is not about pushing.)

What is Yoga about? It’s not about being able to touch your toes, although that’s part of it. It’s not about being able to stand on your head or tie yourself in knots, although you may be able to do that. It’s not about losing weight or looking good, however sweet of a bonus that may be. It’s not about being vegetarian, giving up your possessions, wearing a turban, cults, or hugging trees … although that can happen too.

Just like a marathon is essentially a long, fast walk, the physical practice of Yoga ranges from the simplest stretches to slowed down gymnastics. The physical practice of Yoga is actually a very small part of the practice.

While movement is good for the mind and the body, what makes Yoga more than exercise is what we layer on top of it, and eventually over our entire life.

The Yoga practice consists of eight limbs, the postures (asana) being only one of them. It is the constant practice of the other seven limbs that turn stretching into Yoga. Asana simply provide a platform on which to work the other limbs. These limbs are so important in fact, that if we practiced them in our daily life, what we did for asana wouldn’t matter so much. Dancing, singing, painting, meditating, or playing chess would all lead to becoming a true Yogi as opposed to just posing.

It is the practice of the other limbs that makes the difference. Without them, Yoga turns into pressing the body into shapes. Much as the athlete wants to be the best, asana practice alone can turn into just another way of gratifying the ego, rather than getting over it. This is why some athletes and other superbly fit individuals, who possess so much discipline of a certain type, are not always happy with themselves and do not serve as our best role models. The type of discipline that aims for perfection is controlled by ego, rather than aiming to rise above it. Gratifying the ego is part of the process, but in Yoga practice we want to learn how to use (better yet, lose) it rather than the other way around.

Without the practice of the other limbs, movement is just that. Yoga is not about the stretching.

What is it about then? Depends on whom you ask. For me, it started out about managing anxiety, wanting to feel better, aaaand … being able to do the really cool-looking postures. But it ended up being about waking up, however slowly. Things, life, started to look different. It became harder to categorize things as annoying, or stupid, or however else I described anything that differed from my liking. A sense of something much bigger than my opinions eventually developed.

My humble opinion is that this eventual development is what Yoga is (partially) about: getting over ourselves.


Larisa Klein www.wellnessachieved.com

Larisa Klein • Wellness Achieved Studios • 3000 E Commercial Blvd., Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. 33308 • www.wellnessachieved.com • 954-600-9828 Larisa has been training in Yoga, Pilates, and functional weight training for 20 years since. 1997. She has extensive experience working with cancer survivors, people with various physical special conditions (joint/spinal injuries/operations/replacements/MS/etc.), internal special conditions (schizophrenia, drug/alcohol addictions) as well as triatheletes and Olympians. She is a black belt with full competition experience, a current practitioner of Kung Fu, and has an MA in Mathematics and a second BS in Alternative Medicine.


 

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