Tuesday nights are my favorite nights. After the dreadful beginning of the full week to come, everyone deserves a pick-me-up. Mine is Tuesday night yoga.
Many people claim yoga just isn’t for them. Too many times I’ve heard the excuses of inflexibility, lack of time, minor or imagined physical ailments and intimidation by more experienced yoga-goers. Each of these excuses are just that: excuses.
The Oxford Dictionary defines yoga as, “A Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation.”
Nowhere in that definition does it say that you have to be flexible or in perfect health. The word “simple” alone should tell you that this is no rigorous practice. Any person with an extra hour and minimal patience can do yoga.
Each Tuesday night session begins with with the introduction of a simple pose, named child’s pose. The instructor invites the class to return to said pose if at any point they begin to feel overwhelmed, which, for the record, is hardly ever necessary. The most physically strenuous pose in an average Tuesday night class is usually a plank which lasts approximately seven seconds at a time.
Another common excuse to pass on this opportunity for relaxation is the stereotypical image of people who go to yoga. If you were to Google the term “yoga class” you will discover dozens of images of slim, 20-something Caucasian women wearing nearly the same outfit and smiling as if their lives depended on it. I cannot stress enough how unbelievably inaccurate this is. Yoga is for everyone. Every gender, every race, every age and every body type can find their place in a yoga class.
Another stereotype about yoga is that it is a “judgement-free zone.” This, on the other hand, is very accurate. I personally do not execute every pose with elegance and grace, but that is fine. Many people are intimidated by the mirrored walls in the yoga studio, but I can assure you that no one will be judging you. Everyone is focused on his or her own movements and many people choose to close his or her eyes to further relaxation, relieving the room of the pressure to be better than anyone else. If this isn’t enough proof that no one will judge you, the lights are off the entire time as well. If you’re the type of person to judge someone in a dim, peaceful space, then maybe yoga isn’t for you after all.
Once you get past the external challenges of yoga, you can begin to benefit from it both mentally and physically. Not only is yoga a great way to get exercise, but it is also an effective way to relax the mind. When the going gets tough, I go get my zen on.
This sense of mental relaxation serves not only as an all-around benefit, but it also helps you to clear your mind of unnecessary worries and focus on what is truly important at the moment. By sacrificing one hour each week, you could save yourself from several hours of easily avoidable stress.
At the end of each satisfying class, the group participates in the final relaxation. This literally consists of laying on the floor with soothing music playing and lavender aroma filling the room. While I admit this is very cliche, this is the perfect opportunity to clear your mind and be completely relieved of any stress and anxiety weighing you down.
Once class ends, you are free to seize the rest of your week with a stable, positive state of mind. My final recommendation would be to get a hot cup of chamomile tea, ‘zen’ you can finally relax. You can thank me later.