As a yogi I like to feel strong and flexible and balanced. It feels so good to have everything in the right proportion and functioning correctly- truly, you feel amazing!
Here are some of the most common questions I get asked:
“How long does it take for yoga to work?
” “Where is the strength in yoga?”
“What do you do for cardio?”
“What should a yogi eat – must I turn vegetarian?”
“What’s so good about water?”
As in many instances of health, the results show up when you do. Yoga is the slowest medicine in the world, but it will work you inside to outside in due time. And it’s the inside that’s the tricky part- you can’t see internally (to see, for example, that your liver is the right colour for its correct function) and if you’re not tuned in to your body’s own signals then you’re not receiving all the messages that will help you see what is happening eventually on the outside! Yoga provides you the time to listen and learn your own body signals- we call it Savasana, a fantastic posture of complete stillness that teaches patience, breath and healing.
For someone like me, who is naturally flexible, I do work on the strength aspects of the yoga class. Strength for me is developed by moving slowly and focusing on muscles to keep me in place- as opposed to relying on flexibility to swing through a posture and depend on balance to keep me there. My muscles may not be huge but they help me to do some pretty cool things – I resist gravity and use my own body weight to get my muscle definition.
Of course, I do yoga for cardio. One of Bikram Yoga’s shortest held poses is one of our highest heart rate poses. It is 10 seconds, one step, balancing on one leg and I reckon it is worth about 15mins of running time. A Bikram Yoga class is interval training like nothing else and can be done in any weather!
I teach plenty of people who are very strong with very little flexibility. I also teach plenty of people who are very flexible with very little strength. And there are plenty of people off balance, literally! I look at it like this: the right amount of Strength PLUS the right dosage of Flexibility will bring you Balance in the middle, regardless of whether we talk body, mind or spirit.
You don’t need to be vegetarian, but do look at what you are putting inside your body. Do little changes- like replace dairy milk with rice/almond milk. Give it a few weeks, see how you feel. Now find something else- find excess sugar and give it the flick. Give it a few weeks, see how you feel. This is the process of elimination and creation. If it doesn’t serve you, then let it go. Could your meals be Calorie Reduced Optimum Nutrition? Small portions can still yield high nutrients- it’s what’s inside the food that counts. You could keep eating the same food but spend money on tablets for vitamins and minerals. Or look at what is in your food and redefine what you need to eat for what you need to expend each day.
Yoga is for Every Body. There are plenty of yoga styles and centres around you. Find a great teacher and a class that will help you- and don’t forget to give yourself the time you deserve to look and feel better with yoga as your guide.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Nathan Dennett
Nathan is an Australian Yoga Champion, who competes for Australia on the international stage! Nathan is also the owner/director of Bikram Yoga Sutherland Shire where he not only guides, but also entertains his devotees throughout the 26 Bikram Yoga postures!
If you love Bikram, then you’ll love Nathan’s classes! Visit bikramsutherlandshire.com.au