Yoga is more than just meditation and twisting your self into a pretzel
As part of the Health & Wellness 2010 Series
(above pictures courtesy of Lyan’lex Bernales – Giveitashot)
I got into yoga about 12 years ago in New York. I’ll admit it, I did it because it was trendy…celebs were raving about it and it was starting to evolve from a crunchy tree-hugger kind of activity to something more mainstream. I have never been very flexible so even from the beginning (and even though I was younger) I was not as bendy as the rest of the class, but I loved the sense of calm it brought me and I became addicted to that 2-inches taller feeling I had when I left class. My yoga involvement has come and gone in phases, but today, I am more convinced than ever yoga has an integral part to play in a healthy lifestyle. Here’s why…
Yoga has been practiced for 5,000 years. Originally its purpose was a physical discipline to calm the body before engaging in mental discipline, sitting for hours of meditation to reach a higher state of consciousness. Today, it is commonly practiced as a form of exercise around the world. And the benefits are proven – increased flexibility of muscles and joints, increased strength, improved posture, a stronger core, beneficial massage of internal organs, improved circulation, stress release, heart health and even improved concentration and focus. Lisa Esposito, an American yoga instructor based in Thailand, describes yoga as “a total healthcare system.”Lisa Esposito – Yoga Instructor Based in Thailand
I recently returned to yoga as I was stunned how much flexibility I had lost over the years – especially in my shoulders and hips. Not to mention touching my toes seemed like mission impossible. I wondering if I didn’t do something now, how bad would it be in 10 years? 20 years? 30 years? My friend Monica (who is pictured above, deomstrating poses) talked me into visiting Pure Yoga in Singapore with her. I took a Bikram (hot) class and was hooked. Within 4 weeks of yoga, my mobility was dramatically improved and I’d even lost a bit of weight. Lisa explained that is actually how she got into yoga, after starting with Bikram some years back she lost 25lbs and also became totally addicted.
Plus I noticed other benefits. Yoga has effect of bringing you more in tune with your body when you are off the mat. Lisa describes it as “turning the volume up on your body.” Lisa, who is also formerly a chef, talks about an awareness of what the body wants. For example “eating with a yogic mind” – which is really asking your body what and how much it wants. If you eat with the same awareness as you practice with your body when you do yoga, more than likely you will want to give your body good, healthy foods and will not overeat. Maybe I am not quite here yet
I also personally like the feeling of seeing real progress. Poses I couldn’t do some months back, I can competently attempt now. I am more in tune with my posture and correct it when I notice I am slouching. When I miss a few days, I find myself stretching at my desk, as if my body is craving it. And I sleep so much more soundly on a day where I do yoga versus a day when I do not.
But like anything else, it has to be fun. Lisa talks about “keeping a lightness to your practice” – meaning it must be enjoyable. Anything that feels too hard or that you do out of a sense of duty, well, it simply won’t last very long.
My biggest goal now is to prolong that feeling I have when I leave yoga class…calm yet energized, strong yet supple and of course the 2-inches taller posture I mentioned earlier. I asked Lisa about how I can bring this into the everyday and her response was wise and pragmatic, “if the feeling evaporates too quickly look at your life, your work, your relationships…identify what is draining you and restore the balance.” Makes perfect sense – and so does yoga for me.
My favourite places for yoga in Asia:
Locations in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and New York
Classes range from Ashtanga to Vinyasa to Hatha to Core to Bikram and more. Only problem with True Yoga is that you have to pre-book and classes fill up quickly, so you must plan ahead.
Kamalaya Koh Samui
Offer yoga as a regular part of a program as well as dedicated yoga retreats
Koh Samui, Thailand
Telephone: +66 (0) 77 429 800
Fax: +66 (0) 77 429 899
Absolute Yoga Bangkok
7 locations in Bangkok. I like the Amarin location best, centrally located in the downtown Sukhumvit area.
Classes range from Hot to Hatha to Mysore to Vinyasa to Yoga Pilates and more.