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Julia Clarke Pitta

5 Reasons You Should Start Yoga This Year

by Julia Clarke

A new student in my class recently asked me how yoga has changed my life. The question caught me off guard for a moment, not because I didn’t know the answer, but because I wasn’t sure how to convey the magnitude of positive changes I’ve experienced and enacted in my life to date as a result of my yoga practice. How to convey to this woman that yoga has transformed my physical and mental landscape from tight and fearful to open and strong without sounding like a crazy person? Can I tell her that it has saved my life twice, first from high school bullies and later from a tired life sitting in an office chair without sounding a tad melodramatic? Do I play it safe and just tell her I can now touch my toes and it helped me heal fully from a bad shoulder separation, or go deeper and explain that it gave me the tools to stay in perspective during a miserable divorce?

The truth is that yoga will change your life in any and all of the ways you need it to, some of which you never realized you wanted until you get started. Whether you want to lose weight, manage stress, build muscle, regain flexibility, breathe easier, feel happier, or make decisions more confidently, yoga has a long-proven track record of initiating radical transformation. And why is that even a good thing? Well as the good Greek Heraclitus said, “change is the only constant.” Once you start to see yourself in a state of constant evolution, the world doesn’t seem like it’s a runaway train anymore. Most important: yoga teaches us to be participants, not bystanders, in our own evolution.

If you have even just a hint of an inclination that a little change might be just what you need, and that yoga might be of service to you, I highly recommend you join me for Yoga 101 this January. Here are just a few reasons, listed from mundane to profound, why you should try it:

Increased Flexibility – myth number 1 about yoga: it’s for flexible people. That woman with her leg behind her head in class? She could probably use some Pilates and strength training to help her stay balanced and prevent injury. Those of us who ski, bike, run, belay or sit all day need the therapeutic application of lengthening muscles and the spine to protect our bodies from harm on the hill. There are many great ways to modify and use props that will serve you at first while you’re waiting for those fingers to touch the ground!

Yoga is Affordable & Accessible – unlike skiing, yoga requires no expensive apparatus, and can be done almost anywhere. Some breathable, comfortable clothing you can move in is all you need to start. Yoga props are always provided in public classes, and once you have a little routine you can practice at home, at work, or even at the airport!

Stress Reduction – Yoga’s impact on stress is no joke. While conscious breathing alone will go a long way towards rewiring your nervous system, the regular practice of carving out a space for yourself within your day in which you are able to observe yourself and your reactions in sometimes challenging situations can profoundly affect how you approach your relationships, work and home life.

Building Community – many lasting friendships are formed in the yoga studio at The Vitality Center! We encourage social interaction, and let’s face it, when you’re lying on the floor, a sweaty mess, there’s nothing left to do but laugh together.

Navigating Obstacles – those scary-looking poses you’ve seen people do that have probably kept you out of yoga class until now? We don’t try them because it’s spiritually important to get your leg behind your head. In fact, nobody even cares if you can ever stand on your head. We try them because the practice of self-negotiation in a challenging situation is a skill that’s transferable off the yoga mat.

Convinced of the benefits but scared to take the first step? Please join me for my accessible 4-week Yoga 101 series on Wednesdays 3-4:15pm this January 22 through February 12. Dress comfortably and try not to eat a large meal immediately before class. We will cover yoga philosophy, safe alignment and modifications of primary poses, sustainable breath and use of props. Each class will be a combination of discussion and practice. Whether you’re brand new to yoga or looking to deepen your practice, this course will leave you feeling confident attending a group class, and building a safe home practice.

To learn more, please call 970.476.7960