Yoga for the Gym Devotee
Something that has always interested me while sitting waiting to teach a class, are the apparently different kinds of folks sitting with me (‘the yogis’) and those on their way to or from the gym or other classes (‘the others’). Well, this little article is for me, a great way to express that although we may all enjoy partaking in different activities, there are many benefits to be had from cross-training. As a youngster I started yoga early to combat sickness, but my passion was really football. The years passed and I enjoyed swimming, water polo, golf and martial arts and then came full circle back to yoga. Something really lovely that has been brewing inside for the past few years, now that the yoga has given fruit to such wonderful health and joy, is that I feel myself opening up again to the many sports and pastimes that are ‘out there’, some of which are completely new to me. For years I cloaked myself in a secluded cave of ‘yoga’s all I need’ and now I see ALL as a form of yoga, which is simply one’s awareness and focus in any given activity. Yoga has helped me to understand that although appearing different, we are all the same. Many people who say they have little idea of what yoga ‘is’, have helped me gain a deeper insight into the teachings, as these have been people attending classes with little or no agenda other than to be themselves and enjoy the benefits.
What are the benefits? Well the list is endless, but to keep it simple; yoga enhances everything about one’s life, providing the self awareness to enjoy but not be attached to the highs and face and untangle the lows, without aversion, whenever possible.
By this I mean that we become aware we are ALL SPIRITUAL and have taken on the form of a body. Yoga imparts this wisdom derived from the power of concentration which breath awareness and attention to detail provide. Through the constant use of simply profound breathing techniques, one activates the diaphragms and spinal awareness which for me, are all the ‘core muscles’. When you understand how to use your breath, which is to use these diaphragms and your spine harmoniously, you gain a remarkable insight to the inner workings of both the body and the mind. You realise that ‘they are in you’ (the limitless spirit) as opposed to you (the ego- mind) being trapped inside of them. When Billy Elliott was asked at his interview for dance academy, how he felt, he replied, ‘I disappeared’. What did he mean? He meant something like, the dancer, the dancing and the dance all merged. The ‘small’ Billy dissolved and the ‘real’ Billy emerged.
What I have now learned is that with an understanding of the breath, one can understand how to move or still the body and mind synergistically. One may use minimum effort to gain maximum effects, be it the lengthening of muscles or their toning and growth. Far too many have not discovered yoga for fear that they are not bendy or will have to contemplate the history of their navel. The breath activates the core; physically and mentally and with this one can enjoy shaping a new and improved bodymind and awareness of our humanity. Whether you are an athlete using the gym to tread the mills, a swimmer using weights to increase power, a business person using the rowing machine to maintain cardio or a parent spinning to lose weight and chill a little – everyone can benefit from yoga that is incorporated in to daily living. When the penny drops, you realise that if you could do one thing, to make your life easier and happier you would do it over and over again. Well that’s yoga and the feelings and effects just keep accruing. You soon realise it’s not a ‘doing’ but a ‘being’ and with the ever increasing awareness that arises through the Self, we begin to feel limitless again. New wisdom and joy unfurl daily, enlightening your mind in the gym, at work and in the vast playground of life beyond.
After a good session you will feel; light, grounded, super-inspired, connected, totally relaxed, simultaneously energised, supple, strong, clear, intelligent, witty and beautiful. I don’t mind if that sounds like oversell because the fact is it’s all true, tried and tested by millions.
Hope to see you in the yoga studio some time 🙂
As published in the Laboratory Spa and Health Club Magazine ~ Summer 2012