Yoga for the non-yogi |

Yoga for the non-yogi

Anna Stonehouse
The Aspen Times
A person's legs in a warrior 2 stance attending a yoga class at Shakti Shala in Aspen last year.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times |

Yoga. It’s becoming more and more popular, and I’ve found that people, particularly in Colorado, find it taboo when I say I actually don’t really like it. It just seems to move too slow for me when working out has always meant a cardio or more fast-paced activity.

I’ve worn the comfortable clothes and have been fighting it for a long time, but I finally caved and purchased a membership for a month of yoga. Not because I want to be like “everybody else,” but because I have the world’s worst circulation and I’m hoping yoga will help my hands function better in the cold this winter.

I’ve attended a few classes so far, and needless to say, I can tell looking in the room full of mirrors that I have been the one fighting going to yoga while others have clearly been attending for a while due to their nearly perfect postures and my, well, not-so-perfect posture. I’ve also noticed other people aren’t frantically looking around, like me, when it comes to figuring out what the instructor’s next pose actually demands.

I have a tall, athletic and slender build, and appear like I would be pretty decent at yoga. But I think I surprise people in class when I’m, well, not. I’m working on putting my own self-judgment aside because I’m proud of myself for even committing and actually attending these classes. No one really cares how bad I am, and I can officially justify wearing the attire.

After working at this fall’s yoga festival, Lead with Love, at the Aspen Institute and witnessing the world’s oldest yoga instructor, Tao Porchon-Lynch, still performing immaculate yoga at the ripe age of 99 and post hip replacement, my skepticism was put into check regarding yoga.

There has to be something to it — proof was right in front of me.

Beyond the embarrassing parts of the classes I’ve attended so far, yoga has benefited me already in a way I wasn’t expecting. Ever since I was a child I would hold my breath during activities and also during any sort of wave of emotion. I have found that I am much more aware of my breath in real-life situations and also the mantra they drill into you of “living in the present and letting things go.”

During the hour taken during the day to attend these classes, I can literally feel a weight being lifted from me because that time in there is for me; I’m there just for bettering myself and no outside stresses can affect me — at least during that hour. It’s a mental escape in the best way, plus the physical benefits will hopefully help me out this ski season, as well.

The youngest yoga instructor in the world, Tabay Atkins, 12, was also at Lead with Love and after describing a story involving his grandfather doing yoga he said, “If you have a body, you can do yoga.” You know what, Tabay? I believe those words.

Fingers crossed my fingers will have increased circulation this winter, but this non-yogi has already been convinced that yoga can benefit everyone with a body in one way or another.