By Christina | July 21, 2009
I have been practicing and teaching yoga for several years. This is somewhat uncharacteristic of my fitness persona. If you’re thinking Jillian Michaels or Jackie Warner from Bravo’s Workout, that’s a little bit more of who I am. My style of fitness has always been intense, rigorous, and at times even unforgiving. My Spinning class regulars can quote me verbatim when I say loudly and often “If you didn’t feel that then you are doing something wrong! Do better next time.”
The fact that I incorporated yoga into my own exercise program to begin with is shocking. Add to that the fact that I teach it and have created a unique, signature yoga program called Colorgized Yoga that is found in gyms around the country is a true testament to how much yoga has transformed my life.
There are many different kinds of yoga and none are better than the other. They all are beneficial and should be experienced to best appreciate them. My personal style of yoga that I am currently teaching today is more power/strength based with a flow feel to it. I have a definite meditative zen side combined with a hearty dose of ‘this yoga will kick your butt.’
Even though I teach yoga, I still regularly will take yoga classes outside my area of expertise to learn and grow. I had a yogic experience this past weekend that has stuck with me. Practitioners of this this type of yoga practice called Amrit yoga would not find this to be surprising. Amrit yoga is more meditative and mind/body than some other forms of yoga, but at the same time it was not a walk in the park. In fact, for me it was quite the opposite.
The idea of all types of yoga is that you are to be completely in the moment during your entire yoga practice. Yoga requires you to be fully present, undeterred by outside distractions. Amrit yoga goes a step further and asks you to extend the lessons learned from your yoga practice into your real life experiences. One of the cornerstones of this practice, the way I experienced it this past weekend, is to let go of your reactions before they can take root in your body and cause harm. We are so quick to react to negative situations. We get physically and mentally caught up in our negative thoughts and responses to unfavorable situations that we are in effect causing a toxic reaction in our bodies. Amrit yoga takes you through some poses of slight discomfort and teaches you to release your reactions to that discomfort before it takes hold in your body. It is the ultimate lesson of “just let it go, you are only hurting yourself to let negativity fester.”
What I really liked about Amrit yoga, is it not only was a powerful meditative type of yoga, but that its applications to my daily life were profound. When I was asked to be in a pose that I found uncomfortable and stay in that pose for what felt like a very long time, I was liberated by the idea of letting go of my reactions to the discomfort I was experiencing. Just like in the real world, the philosophy behind this practice is not that there isn’t or won’t ever be discomfort, pain, or awkward situations in your life. It acknowledges this head-on. What is refreshingly different, however, is that it puts the responsibility on you for how you deal with these realities. By releasing your reactions, you are in complete control of your responses to these negative experiences. When I held that uncomfortable pose for a long time, it never became comfortable but I became one with that pose by the end. I experienced a sense of accomplishment that I could face my fears and any pain or discomfort in my life and that I would be stronger for it.
The life lessons of yoga are many. We should all live our lives fully present in the moment. And my Amrit yoga reminded me that we can’t control the circumstances we may have to face in our daily lives, but we can control our reactions to them. Releasing your reactions before they become detrimental to your health and your happiness is advice that will speak to me long after the final savasana (relaxation pose) of that class.