If I had a nickel for every time I have heard the following phrase, I’d be a nickel millionaire: “I’m not flexible enough to do yoga”.  It is also a rather ironic statement since we do yoga in order to get and stay flexible.  However, yoga is much more than just stretching or a workout, it is also perhaps the finest physiotherapeutic movement based therapy there is.  In addition, each pose in the over 200 that are commonly practiced also has medical functions which range from “the simple stretch” to “balancing out the endocrine system” to “anti-aging”.  For example, forward bends up-regulate the parasympathetic nervous system (think rest-digest), whereas back bends up-regulate the sympathetic nervous system (think fight-or-flight).  Yet the best part about yoga is its emphasis on mindfulness.  When you go to a gym and hit the treadmill, there are a whole variety of devices at your disposal to ensure that you can zone out so that you won’t be bored by that run.  You can either turn on your iPod, watch the news on a strategically placed tv in the gym or simply ogle that hottie over there on the free weights until your run is done.  This is one reason why gyms become mindless, and also slightly disempowering when it comes to knowing your own body more intimately.  Being present in one’s body requires focus, which is another of yoga’s virtues.  When you are busy focusing on the form of a pose, most of your awareness is diverted inwards as opposed to that cute hottie “over there”.  This forces the concentration into the present and that is also what meditation is all about.  When you are in the now, you don’t need to think about how offended you felt when “so and so” said “this” yesterday, nor do you worry about what you will make for dinner tonight.  In a world of rigid opinions, doctrinism and consumerism, perhaps we should all get a little bent.

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