By Taryn Walker
The first time I ever attended a yoga class I had never done yoga in my life. I walked in full of trepidation, not knowing what to expect. A lot of people assume that yoga is only for really flexible people that can pretzel themselves like a contortion artist. Yoga has many different variations and skill levels. It isn’t exclusive to any group of people or fitness level. Whether you are 18 or 80, a freeskiing champion or a proud mum, have a hip replacement or bad knees, yoga can be for you. Each posture has several different variations that can accommodate to your skill level and ability.
Since beginning to practice yoga 3 years ago, I have noticed a considerable improvement in my strength, flexibility, and mental well being. Yoga forces you to challenge yourself both mentally and physically. But, after practicing for several years I have had many triumphs as well. When I first started doing yoga, I could never imagine myself doing a shoulder stand, lowering myself slowly to the ground in a push-up position (chaturanga), or bending myself in numerous different ways. Now I am proud to say I can do all of those things! That being said, there are still many postures I struggle with and hundreds more I have yet to learn. I have also learned how to breathe properly and control my breath while exercising. (This seems pretty simple since we breathe everyday.) Yoga teaches us the importance of breathing into tension to release it and using our breath to work through challenging postures. Since learning these techniques, I have begun using them in my other physical activities (like going for a run or hill-climbing while biking) and it has improved my performance in these sports as well.
Not only is yoga a great way to get the rock hard abs you’ve always wanted or finally be able to touch your toes, it is also a great way to relax and relieve stress! After I do yoga I always feel refreshed and rejuvenated. In some yoga classes a period of meditation is included at the beginning or end of the class. Meditation is way more challenging than in looks. However, with practice it can be an effective way to clear your mind, find stillness and peace within yourself, and visualize and achieve your goals. When I do yoga, it is often one of my only calm moments in my very busy day. I enjoy every minute of each class I do because all I have to think about is breathing, maybe stretching a little further, and moving on to the next posture. I always walk away less stressed and ready to take on whatever life throws at me.
There are many different levels of yoga and even more different types. Revelstoke is a great place to start your yoga practice because we have quite a few different studios to choose from that offer a wide variety of classes. You can try out all different kinds of yoga including beginner yoga, prenatal yoga, hot yoga, yoga for skiers and bikers, and much more. To start with, one of the most common classes you’ll see on a yoga schedule is a Vinyasa Flow class. This class will include a mix of breathing exercises, some meditation, sun salutations, and flow movement through several different postures. Another class you may encounter is a Yin Yoga class. This class has a slower pace and you will be holding postures for longer periods of time, targeting the deep tissues in your body. The challenge with this class is holding stillness with breath for long periods of time. One more class you may encounter is Hot Yoga. Hot yoga is practiced in a room with higher temperatures and can be more intense than a regular yoga class.
All the teachers in Revelstoke are experienced yogis. They have extensive knowledge about the body and how to best practice yoga without pushing yourself too far or injuring yourself. That being said, it might take you a few tries to find a teacher that best suits your needs and expectations. Each teacher has his or her own style of teaching yoga and specializes in different styles of yoga. Before your class starts, let your teacher know if you have any injuries. Your yoga instructor will be able to modify the postures in your class to make sure you have a pain-free experience.
Both Balu Yoga & Wellness and Welwinds are perfect places to start your yoga practice. The studios are welcoming and clean. They even have complimentary yoga mats and props available for use! This is perfect if you’re just getting into yoga and are not sure if you want to invest in a yoga mat. The yoga studios in Revelstoke have lots of different pass options that can cater to anyone’s schedule. They even have passes specifically for beginners!
Yoga is a perfect pairing to a mountain lifestyle. It helps us maintain and strengthen our bodies for the hiking, biking, skiing, and so much more that we love to do. It also offers a quiet space in our day to refresh and rejuvenate our mind, body, and soul. When I fist encountered yoga I knew that I had truly found my ‘mountain bliss’.
More information at: www.BaluYoga.com / www.Welwinds.com