The first guest writer in my Village is not only a yoga instructor but an Essentrics lover and a dear friend of mine. I first met Betsy as a co-teacher at The Yoga Factory where I was fortunate enough to begin sharing Essentrics to my community. I have taken yoga classes before but what I felt made Betsy stand out was the thoughtfulness in which she taught her classes. The experience was truly about helping her students heal and find true change within themselves. Her energy exudes warmth, serenity and sincerity. This energy from an instructor can make all the difference in getting the most out of any bodywork practice. I hope you enjoy her article as much as I do! Jill
Yoga: It’s For EveryBody!
When I tell people that I am a yoga instructor, one of the most common
responses I hear is, “I am Not flexible. I can’t do yoga!” My response is, “What
better reason to start?”
Yoga* is a practice that originated in India and has survived and thrived for
over 5,000 years. As ubiquitous as it is in the West, there is still a lack of
understanding as to who can “do” yoga and what it “really” means/is. There is so
much to Yoga; for those who choose to dive deep into the practice and
philosophy, it is a way of life. For this article, I will focus mainly on the yoga
“asanas”; that is, the physical practice of Yoga.
The yogi and sage, Patanjali, described yoga as “the progressive quieting of
the fluctuations of the mind.” Through the physical practice, one can more easily
separate the true “self” from the thoughts, emotions and expectations that keep
us in a state of worry, clinging and grasping. Just as a rigorous workout helps a
person feel better inside and out, so too, does yoga.
It is believed that the original yoga poses consisted of 12 seated postures.
Now the number and variety of poses has (arguably) reached 84, with a great deal
of variation upon those postures. The styles of yoga vary as well. Two of the most
commonly practiced styles of yoga, very briefly described, are Hatha and Vinyasa.
Hatha yoga focuses on taking time to set up the pose, and then staying within it
for several rounds of breath, listening to the body and tapping into that energy.
Vinyasa yoga is a faster-paced practice, where the poses flow from one to the
other in time with the breath.
If all you know of yoga comes from advertisements and picture-perfect
social media posts, you may think that yoga is only for the young and lithe. Not so,
my good human. Yoga. Is. For Every. Body. Approaching the practice safely, under
the direction of a qualified instructor, with self-compassion and the knowledge
that yoga is never about ego or competition, allows a student to experience yoga
on their own terms, within their abilities that day.
The benefits are many. With practice, yoga brings flexibility, strength, and
helps develop healthy breathing and postural habits. Yoga improves balance, can
lower blood pressure, it’s good for your heart and can be a key component in
positive mental health. Yoga can benefit everyone from the office worker to the
professional athlete. (I have had an OSU football player or two in my classes,
alongside grandmothers. All are welcome!)
Aside from the physical benefits of yoga, did you know that the main
purpose of the yoga asanas is to prepare the body and mind for the practice of
meditation? And, oh, the benefits of mindfulness and mediation…That’s an article
for another day. In the meantime, if you are considering giving yoga a try,
remember that 5,000 years’ worth of yogis may just be on to something.
About the Author:
Betsy McGann, yoga student, became a yoga instructor after rediscovering
the practice at age 39. She was busy and stressed, not taking care of herself. She
timidly walked into a yoga class – and she was hooked. She pursued her yoga
teaching certification shortly thereafter. Since then, Betsy remains both a
dedicated student and teacher, and strives to help others find the yogi within.
Her #1 rule is “Do no harm”. When practiced with mindfulness and honesty,
movement on the mat is never wasted effort. Betsy also discovered Essentrics
within this time, and loves the practice of both forms of movement. She feels the
benefits far beyond each class.
No matter what form of movement you choose, she wishes you well on your
*Full disclaimer: I am one human who practices yoga. There is so much I
still have to learn. The Yoga umbrella is massive and the information could fill
1,000 libraries. I have posted a few links here to give you just the tip of the