I have been practicing yoga since 2002 and love it. But there are times when life gets hectic and I am not able to be on the mat as often as I would like. The longest stretch I have been away from yoga is over a year. My mother had cancer and I was feeling overwhelmed.
After that year, I doubted my own practice. What if I couldn’t do all the postures that I did before? What if I didn’t even have enough arm strength to do a Downward Dog?
I know at the heart of yoga is my own journey and it is not about what I can do in a class, but rather how I feel. It is an expression of me.
Getting back into yoga after a break or if you have experienced an illness can be a challenge. To learn more about how anyone can get back into yoga, I spoke with yoga teacher Lisa Messina at YYOGA. Lisa will be instructing at YYoga Teachers’ College in Toronto this May.
Lisa shared with me some of her top tips on How To Get Back Into Yoga After A Break Or Illness
Go slowly and work with a reliable, well trained and experienced teacher. Yoga asanas are meant to be steady and to create a sense of calm rather than feeling any sign of force or struggle.
Listen deeply and practice to become more sensitive to body sensations, breath quality and pace, and emotions and thoughts that arise; there are invaluable messages and clues that will assist the healing process. There is no such thing as a lasting quick fix. Be patient and trust that the body has an innate ability to heal itself.
What are some postures that a person can do when they have an ailment to keep a sense of calm?
The yoga practice offers a way of life, philosophy, various postures, breathing practices, restorative practices and concentration techniques that are all designed to heal the body.
As a prescription is given by an allopathic doctor, the practice must be specific to one’s needs and condition. This is why it is important to seek guidance from within and without. There is no one posture that will create a sense of calm, as every individual will feel different postures bring on different emotions.
What type of yoga classes would you suggest for a person becoming active again?
I think that a progression from restorative yoga to slow, active practices that involve a great amount of focus on alignment and therapeutics would be best.
Do you need to be a certain size or be flexible to do yoga?
Everyone can practice yoga. Nowadays, there are endless approaches to the practice that are easily available. I think it is most important to find the style of practice and teacher that works for you.
What words of wisdom would you share with a person who does not feel that they are in good enough shape to do yoga?
Any shape is good enough. If someone isn’t feeling in good enough shape to practice yoga then I would start working with that individual to transform their view.
Yoga is about “getting in shape” in a much different way than we commonly strive for in the west. Yoga shapes your life. Of course, your physical body will benefit from a practice that includes all parts of your entire being, but if that is the only hope and goal, then only a small part of what yoga has to offer will be obtained.
Yoga is a practice to get to know one’s true self. A practice that leads one back to their true nature, which is peaceful and free. Find the will and then the way will be laid out before you.
I also previously spoke with Seane Corn, one of the most renowned yoga teachers in the world today and asked her who can do yoga, do you have to be flexible or in great shape to practice?
When I asked what would be Seane’s advice to anyone wanting to try yoga she shared this: “One aspect of the practice of yoga is that it can increase our flexibility, you do not need to be flexible to be in a class. Yoga meets you where you are at. If you want to decrease stress then yoga will meet you there, if you are seeking something else it will meet you there too.”