Monday, June 25, 2012

Why i practice yoga at home

A friend asked me where i practice yoga and was rather surprised when i told her i usually practice in my living room. She reformulated her question  "i mean, which studio?". At that point i had to explain to her why i prefer the comfort of my home. It is a pretty good question, that deserves a longer explanation than the one i gave her while waiting for a tram.

These days my energy and mood are hugely affected by my changing hormonal levels. During perimenopause estrogen and progesterone levels no longer follow a predictable curve, if someone were to measure them, the weekly chart would look like a roller coaster designed by a madman!

By practicing alone i can select poses that are either calming or energizing, challenging when i feel strong enough for a challenge, restorative when i feel that my energy is depleted, soothing when i suffer from ovulation pain, menstrual cramps, low back pain. I can play classical music one day and Tibetan bells the next, or just listen to the sound of the rain outside. I can lie in Savasana for 30 minutes, or chant 108 OM's.

There are hundreds of poses to choose from, and learning yoga (a lifelong pursuit!) entails using them as a map that leads you to the discovery of your body and its connection to the mind.

Studying a pose and its effect requires time, it's not something i can do by holding it for 30 seconds in a group class. I want to hold it until i learn to breathe effortlessly in that pose, until the fluctuations of my mind are stilled. I come out of a pose when i am ready, not when everybody else does at the prompting of their teacher.

In a one-to-one session the teacher can provide useful instructions and adjustments, prepare a sequence of poses that meet your current needs and are suitable for your level, take into account your general fitness level, muscolo-skeletal imbalances or injuries, help remove psychological obstacles that hinder your practice, etc.

A group class may provide the motivation to practice yoga, but unless it leads you to exploring poses in depth at your own pace at home, it may not provide the benefits that you are seeking.

If the higher cost of a personalized yoga session is an issue, you may want to attend a drop-in group class on a day when you feel well, learn some new poses, and then spend the rest of the week working on certain poses at home, selecting those that are recommended for your particular needs.

You can pick up a 'Yoga for Women' or 'Yoga for Menopause' book and learn more about the benefits of each pose.

I use 'The Woman's Yoga Book" by Bobby Clennell, "Yoga, a Gem for Women" by Geeta Iyengar, "Yoga and the Wisdom of Menopause" by Suza Francina, "Yoga Therapy" by A.G. Mohan & Indra Mohan.

If you suffer from low back pain, one of the best videos you can get is "Viniyoga Therapy for the Low Back, Sacrum and Hips" by Gary Kratsow (no yoga experience necessary, the focus is on correct breathing and all exercises are very gentle and slow-paced)

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