I started practicing yoga the same time I began grad school. I was feeling out of shape and stressed. Our bodies have an amazing way of telling us when we’re not taking care of them – anyone who has ever had a kink in their neck or an ache in their back knows what I’m talking about. Beginning yoga can be a little intimidating. I could barely touch my toes and didn’t want to look stupid while everyone else in the class gracefully positioned their bodies into contorted poses.
The first class I took was in a gym at my university. Although the fluorescent lights and crowded room did not exactly stroke my chi, I lucked out by having an amazing teacher, Blair Vaughn. Finding a good teacher is the most important step in having a rewarding yoga practice – the second is finding a good space to do it in. You need an attentive instructor, especially at first. This is the person who will keep your body safe and aligned. They will also challenge you and encourage you to grow.
Blair eventually invited me to practice at an actual yoga studio, which was a significantly more pleasant experience than practicing in a gym. I was hooked. Yoga not only became my workout, but my sanctuary – my place to take an hour to myself and let go of everything. The benefits of yoga are astounding: lowered stress, toned muscles, higher energy levels, less achiness, better breathing, and a sense of accomplishment, just to name a few.
Now after practicing yoga for years I feel like nothing can replace it. Tonight will be my tenth week in an acro-yoga series. Acro-yoga combines acrobatics, yoga and thai massage. It is done in partners where one person is the base and the other the flyer. Although I enjoy many forms of yoga, I have fallen in love with this particular form. The most challenging aspect of this course, in my opinion, is learning how to communicate with and trust your acro-yoga partner – be it your significant other, spouse, or person that you are working with in the class.
If you want to give yoga a try and live in the Denver area, check out VitalYoga.org. They have great studios and amazing teachers. To learn more about yoga or find a studio in your area visit yogajournal.org.
(acro-yoga photo courtesy of Phil Gust and Jennifer Leisch)