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Live Well: There's a yoga style for every excuse

February 18, 2014 Updated: February 18, 2014 at 7:21 am
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Jennifer Mulson photographed Wednesday, August 28, 2013. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette

I've invited scads of folks to my yoga classes through the years, and often their first reply is, "No thanks, I can't even touch my toes."

To which I sometimes reply, "Bend your knees."

I've grown numb to the excuses, but thought it would be fun to suggest a style of yoga for a few of the more popular ones.

- "I'm not flexible enough."

You just proved your own point. Isn't that exactly why you should go to yoga? To gain more flexibility? Beginners can try anything labeled hatha, gentle or slow flow. You'll spend a little more time holding each posture and, before you know it, you'll be showing off your toe-touching skill at family picnics this summer.

- "But everybody will see me! I'll look so dumb."

To put it nicely, please get over yourself. Nobody is watching you except the teacher. And she or he is only making sure you don't hurt yourself or develop bad alignment habits. Otherwise, everybody in class is too busy holding his or her own warrior posture and trying to not topple out of tree pose to give you much notice.

If you're really concerned about looking silly, a home practice is the place to start. Do a video or online class. Google "online yoga classes" and you'll find an array of choices.

- "It's too boring." See also, "You just sit around and breathe, right?"

Take a vinyasa or power class. The Sanskrit word vinyasa means to synchronize breath with movement. Students flow from one posture to the next. There's no way you'll be bored. In fact, you'll wish for a moment to catch your breath and process what happened. Just wait - that moment is called savasana, and it comes at the tail end of class.

- "It's too easy. I need a challenge."

Hello, kundalini yoga, nice to meet you.

I dare you to take a class and report back that it was too easy. I never have been more exhausted, yet more invigorated, than after a brisk kundalini session filled with kriyas - series of postures, breath and sound.

- "I don't want to stand on my head, or

do any other crazy posture."

That depends, of course, on your definition of crazy, but there's no need to do any pose you feel might be dangerous. You can simply sit and admire those who do, or try a hatha or gentle yoga class, where "crazy" poses are few and far between.

- "I have injuries."

Check with a doctor before you unfurl your mat, but many people have found relief from pain and help in healing through yoga. Try alignment-rich Iyengar or anusara classes. You'll be offered lots of cues and modifications to keep your body safe. In an Iyengar class, you'll use extensive props, including straps, blocks, chairs, blankets and bolsters.

- "It's too expensive."

Donation yoga to the rescue. There are two places in town that offer pay-what-you-can practices: Cambio. Yoga and Manitou Yoga.

And if you have a gym membership, chances are good yoga classes are included. That's, like, free yoga almost.


Mulson's Live Well column appears biweekly in Health and Wellness

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