Yoga can be intimidating for newcomers. The practice has many styles and forms that seem overwhelming. But, under its surface, yoga is a simplistic, traditional lifestyle that is guided and inspired by ancient philosophy. Once you get over the fear of rolling out your mat for the first time, yoga is beneficial to your whole well-being. Firefly Yoga studio owner, Lauren Mathena adds, “The benefits of yoga are improved strength, flexibility, balance, stamina, and mobility in the body and in the mind. Yoga is a tremendous remedy for anything that might be ailing you physically, mentally, or emotionally. It can enhance an already-happy, healthy life, or it can stimulate great improvement if you are looking for a change.”
Before you try yoga, you’ll ask yourself is it a right fit for me? Mathena has the answer. “Yoga is truly for everybody. From the smallest children to older adults, to teens and college students, to desk workers and truck drivers, to orthopedic surgeons to middle school teachers, everyone can access yoga. Having a mat is really nice, but that is not even necessary.”
Yoga originated with the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India over 5,000 years ago. By definition, it is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices. Danville Yoga and Meditation Center owner, Cyndi Reames adds, “For those of us who teach and practice Yoga, it is so much more. It can be a way to overcome trauma and addiction, for others a way to relax and find themselves, and some just want a great workout for the body and mind.” Heated classes assist in pain relief, detoxification, weight loss, and increased flexibility. Reames offers heated yoga at her studio. Practicing yoga has also shown to lower blood pressure and blood sugar, boost immunity, and improve self-esteem and mental capacity.
In modern terms, yoga encompasses poses (asana), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation. Reames says, “Yoga incorporates mindfulness and the use of breath as the student moves through poses.”
One of the most asked questions from beginners is what’s the difference between is stretching and yoga. Mathena says, “Stretching your muscles is part of what is included in yoga, but stretching is just one piece of yoga. However, if the only benefit you are seeking is stretching, then yoga will still be a great time investment for you. Stretching before and after exercise, after waking up in the morning, before going to bed, or during intervals throughout the day can help with sore muscles, aching joints, productivity, sleep quality, and more.”
There are many types of yoga with some of the more popular being “yang” style classes like Vinyasa Flow, Buti Yoga and POUND that Mathena says “incorporates building muscular strength, increased flexibility, and improved balance while including cardio sprints and core exercises.” “Yin” classes such as Gentle Yoga, Yin Yoga, and Restorative Yoga use accessories such as blocks and blankets to relax the body in a meditative-like atmosphere.
Now that you’ve decided to give yoga a try, you’ll want to figure out a schedule. Mathena suggests finding one day a week, preferably the same day and time and mark a class in your calendar with a reminder. “Grab your mat and give yourself the gift of yoga for just 10 minutes a day—one hour a week to start and maybe building up to a few times a week. Once yoga becomes part of your life, your body will want to move and spending an hour on your mat a few days a week, or every day, will become part of your routine,” she adds. Firefly Yoga offers the above as well as classes that are somewhere in between like Level 1-2 Hatha Yoga and Beginners’ Yoga. Mathena is a certified prenatal yoga teacher which allows Firefly to offer group and private prenatal classes.
Reames says, “At Danville Yoga and Meditation Center we provide classes in Heated Yoga, Non-Heated Yoga, Gentle Yoga, Yoga for Beginners, Vinyasa Yoga. Each month we also offer at least one Specialty Class. Tai Chi, Aikido, and Wang Chun Kung Fu are also offered. Reiki and massage are also available by appointment.”
Danville has plenty to offer for beginners and long-time practitioners of yoga. And if you’re just starting your journey, you’ll find out early on yogis are incredibly friendly and willing to help. Mathena says it took her nearly seven years to attend a class after she became interested in yoga, and then several classes to find the style she liked. “My advice is don’t wait. If you’re interested in the benefits of yoga, there is no reason not to try today. Reames echoes Mathena’s advice. She says, “Students just need to come in with an open mind and willingness to learn. Be open to trying other teachers and styles of yoga to find the class that’s right for you. Don’t give up. Yoga is a practice, not perfection.”