What is Yoga in “Jenn Speak”?

I started teaching a new group class this week and as a part of the introduction to my class I like to explain what yoga is and what it is that I teach. I don’t align myself with the traditional lineages in yoga, but if I had to pick an influence, it would be Forrest Yoga. I really admire and resonate with what Ana Forrest, the creatrix of Forrest Yoga has overcome and developed as a practice.

And the truth is, my own practice is wide and varied. I strength train. I do mobility exercises. I do pranayama (breathwork) and I do asana (Yoga postures). Most people would not consider deadlifting to be yoga. But it can be. And that’s where we get to my definition of yoga.

deadlift

Yoga is the development of awareness within the body and the mind. You cannot have one without the other. If you are doing bridge pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) and focusing on engaging all the muscles to lengthen and strengthen while maintaining a steady breath – that is yoga. If you use the pose to identify what parts of the body are not supporting you – that is yoga. If you keep your mind in the moment and the movement – to keep everything engaged – that is yoga.

Why is this such a big deal? Knowledge is power. When you have that sense of connection with your body as you move it through space you develop a sense of what is missing or not working as it could. You see the patterns and your habits.  You have a choice. You can leave it as it is, or change something to engage it.

Why is that important? Well, imagine that you do bridge pose with no activation of the hamstrings or the glutes. Your quads will do all the work and most of us have super strong quads. Overtime you may do bridge but without the support of the big muscles that were really designed to do that work the quads will start to protest. You may develop aches and pains. You may see more serious problems down the road. It’s like having a co-worker that doesn’t pull their weight in the team. You and the other team members must pick up the slack. What happens over time? At first nothing, then some grumbling and then a revolt. Well, hopefully not that drastic, but you get the picture.

So, again, back to my definition: yoga develops the awareness within the body and the mind. When you see the patterns in your body, you see the patterns in your mind. And this presents you with a choice. What you do with it is up to you.

Want to learn more? Come and join me for a class.

See you next time,

Jenn

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