“Self-Acceptance is the measuring stick of where we are today and where we aspire to be tomorrow.” Dr. Paul Jerard
As a yoga teacher, it can be difficult to explain the act of accepting one’s self to your students. Yet, the act of self-acceptance is a key toward a bright future. My mother was overweight for thirty years, trying diet after diet and alternating between success and failure as often as her weight fluctuated. She knew by the time she was 50 that no mere diet was going to help her lose the 200 excess pounds she needed to lose. But with damaged knees, she could barely walk, much less run, and felt humiliated at the mere thought of walking into a gym for a membership.
At this point in her life, she had clearly accepted her situation. Her age and emotional limitations cast a bleak future over any lifestyle changes, and so I once more suggested yoga, which in years past she rejected for a variety of reasons. The positives, I reasoned, were obvious: no equipment or membership needed, a practice to bolster mental and emotional health while strengthening and stretching the body and easy yoga techniques that even she could do.
Five Easy Yoga Techniques
Although not everyone shares the same story as my mother, practicing yoga for 30-60 minutes daily can still be a better bet than aerobic activity and weight training.
It is important to remember that poses are adaptable to each student’s physical needs or limitations.
1. Discover your breathing. Learning one or two breathing techniques will help calm your system and aid your mind-body connection, as you grow more aware of your self.
2. Start slow. Basic asanas include corpse, warrior variations, sun salutations and back or forward bends.
3. Know your limitations. As indicated before, yoga postures can be modified to suit your needs. It is also smart not to push too hard until you have mastered some of the basics.
4. Ask for help. You should never be embarrassed or ashamed to ask your yoga instructor for feedback. Doing the pose correctly is necessary in order to derive the full benefits of a practice, and your teacher should be helpful and demonstrative in encouraging you to achieve correct form.
5. Use resources. Many yoga studios have props on hand to help you through a class, including yoga blankets, bolsters and blocks. It is not a sign of weakness or inexperience to use these props since each student’s body and physical experience differs from the next one’s.
When my mother finally started her practice, she decided to look at it not as a weight-loss attempt since yoga burns far fewer calories than a twenty-minute jog, but as an incorporation of healthy practice into her life. A small goal like that has enabled her to turn a tiny shift in her lifestyle into a snowball effect. She both feels and looks better, while her knee has recovered and is able to bear her decreasing weight.