The Practical Side of Yoga
I am a physical therapist. I have always loved all things physical. Physical fitness, physiology, physical medicine, even the physics of mechanics! So naturally I was initially interested in yoga as a means of physical exercise. I was not impressed by my first yoga class. It felt like nothing more than a simple stretching class. Nothing magical, nothing life-altering about it. But my interest was not completely foiled. I knew there must be more to it. I got the book, “Yoga for Dummies.” I started doing “The Daily Dozen” prescribed by the book to wake up and move my bones in the morning. One day, I was bedazzled by a guy at my gym doing a series of exercises I now know as a sun salutation but at the time I only saw the beauty of his circular, fluid movements. I started using a DVD, “Power Yoga for Strength” with Rodney Yee. I felt my muscles contract and stretch simultaneously (eccentric strengthening). I felt rejuvenated from all that deep breathing. And I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of the sun salutation. That was it, I was hooked.
That was almost twenty years ago! Since then I have evolved in my understanding that yoga really is a multi-faceted tool that can help one to achieve a variety of goals. I have used yoga to treat patients that I would have considered very challenging cases in the early days of my career. I have used yoga to achieve my own peace of mind. And I have even used it to have fun (what's more fun than doing yoga on a paddle board in Sausalito, CA?)! I have learned that the magic of yoga comes not from achieving esoteric knowledge or superhuman levels of strength and flexibility but from the ability of ordinary folks to apply ancient knowledge to our modern lives to help us improve our posture, our breath and our outlook on life.