Thank you for all the feedback about last week’s post “Yoga is good medicine!”. It seems many of us are interested in yoga! Here’s some of your comments and my replies too.
Yes, I’d say yoga is a self-care practice supporting mental health. It’s been part of my life for many years, and I’ve seen many patients benefit from yoga in our MBSR programs. That’s why I highlighted the research in last week’s email.
One member emailed to say she’s cautious about COVID so she’s not at the yoga studio, but she enjoys practicing with YouTube, following several teachers.
And some practical questions — Sorry I don’t have individual advice on safety, or the best way to find a ‘good’ teacher, but here’s general ideas.
Basic suggestion: Check the credentials/training of the teacher. What is their background? How long have they been teaching? They will want to tell you! Let them know your needs, your medical history if that’s relevant.
And, go slowly with a new teacher. Take your time, experiencing their approach. How do you feel after the session? How do you feel the next day? And, of course, it’s usually safer if you avoid inversions (upside down poses), and be cautious with poses that twist your back — don’t go to extremes.
If you have a medical condition (eg. heart disease, hypertension, neck/back problems, surgery, etc.), ask your doctor/physiotherapist to advise any postures, movements you should avoid. And at the yoga studio, remember that you know your body best. Take charge and don’t do anything you’re concerned about. Why push yourself? You can always experiment another time!
And here's a terrific TedX talk by Sara Lazar — an American neuroscientist who did ground-breaking research on the brain effects of meditation and yoga.
How Meditation Can Reshape Our Brains: Sara Lazar at TEDxCambridge 2011 [8 ½ min]
Yoga is not like an exercise class or ‘Slim’n Trim’ session! Depth of yoga does not require youth or physical agility.
You can practice fully while you’re in a wheelchair or confined to bed. Some great teachers say the most important yoga pose is ‘savasana’. In that yoga pose, you lie quietly on the floor, breathing! (Some of you may know savasana as the ‘Body Scan’ of the MBSR program.)
Yes, you do have all that it takes to practice yoga!
To your natural happiness!