As a yoga teacher in Bergen County, I talk about yoga often when I meet new people. They sometimes tell me that while they want to like yoga, they still do not feel like it’s for them. One of the main reasons they don’t like it is because they feel like they can’t “do” the yoga poses. In our Western culture, yoga is associated primarily with the physical practice and physical benefits of yoga. Many people become easily discouraged because they feel like they are not flexible enough, strong enough, young enough, and/or thin enough to enjoy the benefits of yoga.
Great news: Yoga is NOT about having a certain body type and that any BODY of any AGE can practice yoga. Basically, if you can breathe, you can do yoga. Most people are surprised to learn that the practice of yoga is made up of eight parts, or “limbs”, and that the physical practice of yoga, called “asana”, is only one of those parts. The other seven limbs include meditation, breathing, and guidelines on how to live a peaceful life… with nothing to do with physical yoga poses.
The mission at Body Positive Works, a wellness center in Bergen County, is to show everyone who walks through our door that they CAN practice yoga and that every body is truly a “yoga body”. So, what can you expect in your first class at Body Positive Works, where we offer body-positive yoga for every body type?
First, I’ll tell you what you will NOT find at Body Positive Works:
- Mirrors: Yoga is about how the poses feel, not how they look! People say, “But how can I tell if I’m standing up straight without a mirror?” Through a yoga practice, you learn to connect with your body so that you can feel what your body is doing.
- Shaming language: Sometimes you can feel worse after finishing a yoga class than when you started! For example, have you ever heard a teacher say, “If you NEED to modify, you can drop to your knees instead of staying in a full plank”? Translation: “If you are too weak to hold yourself up in a plank like everyone else, you can drop to your knees”. At Body Positive Works, there is no such things as a “modification”. There are just options, and one option is not better than the other.
- Impossible “peak poses”: Some classes are sequenced to build up to a peak yoga pose, and often these peak poses require extreme flexibility or strength. If you spend a whole class working up to an “advanced” pose that is not built for your body and therefore impossible for you to do, it can make the you feel like you have “failed.”
- Emphasis on results: One of the most, if not THE most, important pieces of yoga philosophy is to LET GO of the results. We are not going to talk about how a particular yoga pose may get you “washboard abs”. Let GO of the results, and feel your body in the present moment.
- “Advanced” Level classes and poses: Take a look at our schedule at bodypositiveworks.com/services/yoga, and you will not see classes organized by beginner, intermediate and advanced. Correlating one’s level as a yoga practitioner to how “advanced” their physical practice is does not make sense. As I mentioned earlier, yoga is made up of eight parts. The ability to twist one’s body into a pretzel and turn upside down does NOT mean that person is an “advanced” practitioner. I had a student come to a class the other day and lay in savasana (resting pose) for the entire class because she hadn’t slept the night before. To me, the ability to listen to the body and be still while everyone else is moving is an advanced practice!
Here’s what you CAN expect in your first class at Body Positive Works:
- Customized instruction: We will fit the yoga poses to YOUR body, rather than force your body into the yoga pose. Even when practicing the same yoga pose, everyone in the class will look different. Instead of focusing on how a pose looks, we focus on the function of the pose. For example, the function of a standing forward bend, or uttanasa, is to stretch the back of the body, anywhere from the crown of the head to the arch of the foot. Some students will bend their knees, some will use blocks to reach the floor, and some will have straight legs. As long as you are feeling a stretch somewhere along the back of the body, you are receiving the benefits of the pose. You can check out our amazing, experienced yoga teachers here.
- Lots of Options: If a pose does not work for your body, we will offer you another equally amazing option. A more strenuous version is not “better”. In fact, given that most of us run around like crazy, I often encourage my students to take a step back, rest more, and enjoy what it feels like to move slowly and take pauses. We encourage the use of props, chairs, walls…basically whatever it takes to help you.
- Inclusive, non-judgmental language: Words matter. Would you speak to a friend the way you speak to your body? In our classes, there are no “bad” knees, backs, shoulders, etc. There may be parts of the body that need special attention, but no part of our precious bodies is ever “bad.” Similarly, you are not going to do a pose right/wrong or better/worse. Instead of judging the practice, we encourage all of our practitioners to become curious, even fascinated by how their bodies react to the practice.
- Authenticity & Community: Our teachers are passionate about yoga because it helps each of us recover from something we struggle with in our own lives. In my classes, I share how yoga helped me recovery from my eating disorder. Our yoga for addiction recovery teachers speak about how yoga supports them in their recovery from their addiction. We have a Curvy Yoga certified teacher (curvyyoga.com) who talks about how Curvy Yoga helped her overcome her own body image issues. Being around people who are open about their struggles and is helping us develop a community in which people feel comfortable being vulnerable. Visit us at bodypositiveworks.com to view our schedule, read about our teachers, and see what else our wellness center has to offer! Any BODY is welcome to come to any of our classes, regardless of the theme of the class. Like you do not have to have a chemical addiction to attend Yoga for Addiction Recovery. Aren’t we all addicted to something? Please call 201-708-8448 with questions or better yet, just stop by!