The Beauty of Human Variation

I come from a tradition of Bikram Yoga, a practice that is very regimented, rigorous, and black and white. For many years, for myriad reasons, this practice worked well for me. As I've grown older and found myself wandering into the mysterious waters of menopause, my physical flexibility has lessened, but my mental flexibility has flourished. Over the past few years, my changing flexibilities have led me to broaden my yoga practice.

As the owner of a yoga studio, I am in the unique and thrilling position of creating a vision. In the fifteen years that I've been doing this work, I've learned a lot. For example, I know that it takes a village to run a business. I am blessed to be surrounded by people who share and support the vision of The SweatBox. As The SweatBox visionary, I am excited to share my expanded view, one that acknowledges all yoga as good yoga and all bodies as perfect bodies.

Something that's become crystal clear to me as I've expanded my personal yoga practice and teaching knowledge over the years, is how significant human variation is and how important it is to honor these differences. There is no one "right" human. We are all different and perfect in our own way. As a yoga teacher and student, I have found that expanding my view of "the right way" to practice yoga has been profoundly liberating. I want to share that with my community.

Bikram Yoga everyday is great for many bodies, but it's not great for ALL bodies. The Pranayama that we do in Bikram, for example is an amazing exercise that develops lung capacity, efficiency, and oxygen flow in the body. The repetition of postures in Bikram Yoga can, for many of us, create an unparalleled moving meditation that leads to significant stress reduction.

Vinyasa Yoga everyday is wonderful if you have the strength and agility. The unexpected nature of the flow offered by the teacher, the new and different challenges that come with every unique class help us stay creative and open-minded. But a daily Vinyasa Yoga practice is also not the magic bullet for all bodies.

A Bikram Yoga practice is a therapeutic, healing practice to be sure. Adding Vinyasa and Yin Yoga (which are also healing and therapeutic) into a regular yoga practice, can facilitate create a greater sense of physical and mental balance in one’s life. Many Vinyasa students who have been staunchly Vinyasa-based will find themselves surprised and delighted by how a regular practice of Bikram provides healing and respite for their tender shoulders and wrists.

Yin Yoga is the counter, the balance for both Bikram and Vinyasa practitioners that brings a greater state of physical, mental and emotional equanimity to all bodies. This technologically turned-on world we live in is fast-paced and often relentless. Yin gives us all an opportunity to slow down, to step off the moving walkway.

Each of our skeletons, the placement of our organs, the hormones that course through our bodies, are individual and unique. As such, we need to experience a variety of yoga options to understand what serves us. This will lead to a greater understanding of who we are and what we need. It might be one kind of yoga one day and another kind another day. It might be practicing one style more, one style less. It might mean adding Qi Gong. It might be practicing at a different time of day or making subtle modifications to what you've been doing the same way for decades. Only by trying new things can we know what best serves us and helps us grow.

I believe a daily yoga practice is important—whether it is a Sunday morning home practice of Yin with your partner combined with six days a week of more Yang yoga at your favorite studio or yoga in the woods with your family every morning with a periodic visit to the studio. It doesn’t matter what yoga you do, it’s that you do it. In expanding my own vision of what yoga is good yoga, I have been able to commit more deeply to my own yoga practice. I invite you to do the same. Try something you haven’t tried. Challenge your body and your mind in new ways. Be a beginner again. Practice some good yoga everyday.

 

 

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