FitZonePLUS is mentioned on Global TV News Hour. It’s presented as a gym for everyone who is looking for a non judgmental, supportive, NO attitude environment.
Not everyone makes a resolution each January, but chances are you have at least once in your life made a New Year’s Resolution. Think back over past resolutions and shine a light on them. What were they all about? If you are like most people, your resolutions were to change something about yourself: either there was something that you were doing that you wanted to no longer do, or there was something that you were not doing that you vowed to start doing.
“I resolve to give up smoking, eat less, exercise more, spend more time with family, read more, finish that project, … (fill in the blank).”
These are “yang” resolution relating to activities: resolving to do something or refraining from doing something, or in other words to change yourself or your life in some way. These can be wonderful intentions and there are times, not necessarily only on January 1st, when we do need to tap into our yang energies and change the course of our lives, but to be balanced, we also need to look at the yin aspects of such intentions.
When we examine our resolutions we find that they are based on the unspoken assumption that the way we are right now is not good enough. There is a “should” lurking in our self-evaluation: we should be better, or different than we are right now. Where is that assumption coming from? Why are you not content with the way you are right now, with the way your life is right now? Whose voice is whispering in your ear that you should be different?
Balance requires consciously honouring both the yin and yang energies of life. Yang is about change, movement, passion, climbing great heights, and accomplishing great deeds. Yin is about acceptance, allowing, stillness, enjoying the present moment and doing small everyday tasks as if they were great deeds.
We are constantly urged in our society and in our culture to change, to improve, to seek what we don’t have and fix the problems we do have. Step back for a moment and really look at every ad you see, notice the way media portrays the “ideal” life, hear what advice your friends and family offer to you. It is easy to fall into the belief that however we are right now is inadequate in so many ways. And, since we are so flawed, why not vow to improve? All we need to do is buy certain products, dress in a different ways, change jobs, relationships, locale, etc.
Over the past many years, we may have done all of this and more and yet, somehow, we still feel inadequate is so many ways. This yang approach to fixing life is not yielding the promised results. It is easy to blame ourselves for this failure, and that blame just feeds into the next cycle of change: we need to try harder or do more. It is not a surprise that so many New Year’s resolutions lie broken in the gutter before the Xmas tree is taken away. We have tried in the past and still our culture deems us not yet good enough.
Let’s look at the yinside of all of this. What is there about yourself that you can simply accept and not try to change? After all these years of trying to change, select something that you will simply allow to just be.
This is not easy! It is counter-cultural and counterintuitive. Some examples could be:
“I resolve to accept my body just as it is right now!”
“I resolve not to allow my fear/anxiety get in the way of allowing me to try a yoga class.”
“I resolve to make a holistic lifestyle chance that I can continue for life, not just for January.”
“I resolve to let … (fill in the blank) … just be”
Perhaps in years past you resolved to give up something, to lose weight, or stop eating desserts or you gave up chocolate (gasp!) The shadow side of that yang decision may have been losing joy and comfort as you deliberately restricted the amount of pleasure you allowed yourself. As a consequence you were unhappy and this unhappiness spread to the loved ones in your life.
This is not to say that these yang resolutions were unwise, but rather to point out that every decision and action has a consequence to it. The key question to ask yourself is, “Am I better having made these resolutions in the past?” It is up to you to define “better” – healthier, happier, more content, more balanced… If you do not believe you are better off, then it is time to revisit the intention behind your resolutions.
This year, why not resolve to accept something about yourself that you will no longer try to change or improve! You may even decide that this is the year that you accept something about someone else and vow to no longer try to change him or her! Sure, go ahead and consciously make a yang resolution to do or not do something, but why not add a yin resolution this New Year’s? What are you going to accept, allow and no longer try to change this year?
Let 2014 be your year of yin.
I have had a knee injury all summer and have been limited to restorative yoga only. One day there was only one other person in the class, who also had a knee injury. I asked the instructor if she could teach a non-restorative class that only required getting up and down from the mat once – getting up and down really hurt. The class was fantastic and consisted of seated cat and cow, seated twists, supine twists, bends using props, leg stretches with straps, seated sun salutations and a few restorative poses at the end. We were stunned, the class worked out our whole body and it was also super relaxing with no pressure on the kness at all. Happy Knees Yoga was born!
If you’ve stayed away from or found yoga classes too difficult because you have sensitive knees/joints or find it difficult to get up and down from the floor for other reasons, this is the class for you. All poses in a Happy Knees Yoga class will be done on the mat either seated or lying on the back or side. You only go down to the mat once and get up once. There will be zero pressure on the knees, yet you will get a full workout and it’s very relaxing because it ends with a few restorative poses. There will be chairs provided to help you get up and down if you require them. Note…this class is not meant to strengthen knees, but to stay off them completely. Happy Knees Yoga would also be appropriate to those with arthritis and joint pain and for others who just want a gentle class which still provides a good workout. This class is appropriate for everyone including absolute beginners, no flexibility required!
The class starts on September 12th and runs on Thursdays from 7:00 – 8:00pm.
Visit http://www.fitzone-plus.com for more information or to register for the class.
I thought I’d said all I wanted on body image and yoga in my last post but controversy in the yoga world regarding a certain video has left me feeling I didn’t say nearly enough. Or say it clearly enough. So let me try again.
The taut and toned ‘yoga body’ on display in the media marketplace is a lie. It is NOT obtained from a regular yoga routine (as many would have you believe) – no , its obtained at the price of constant work, a Herculean effort to burn calories, and a saintly denial of carbs.
The implication that rippling abs can be yours with a couple of yoga classes a week is obviously motivated by profit. It is the creation of yoga studios who want you to buy more classes, and of corporations who want you to buy all the necessary yoga accoutrements your ‘yoga body’ needs (pants, mats, water bottles, mat holders, towels, mat cleansing mists, and even your underwear).
But the point of this post is the shocking depth to which this lie has permeated the yoga world. It seems no one, not even half-starved yoga superstars, will admit that the emperor has no clothes.
Case in point, Kathryn Budig’s article in Huffington Post pleading with us to stop judging her and other yoginis who strip down to sell products. Budig’s post defends a video advertisement in which we spy upon the early morning yoga routine of a near naked limber yogini Briohny Kate-Smyth who is performing in Budig’s words “awe inducing asana in her lingerie”.
Set in a luxurious bedroom, with a handsome young lover asleep on an acre wide bed (on what are doubtless 800 thread count sheets) the yogini moves with complete and awe-inspiring control over her body against a backdrop of wall to wall windows (revealing the skyscrapers of capitalistic success). The camera lovingly caresses each part of her cellulite free body, her concave belly, her taut buttocks, her ripped biceps.
The video’s tag line reads “Equinox’s Briohny Kate-Smyth shows there’s no limit to what the artfully honed yoga body can do.” Her discipline and control (and sexy underwear), the ad implies, have given her the power to have it all.
Budig is the naked ‘yoga body’ in the famous Toe Sox ad for which she received much pillory and now the feet of her former student Smyth are similarly on the fire. Budwig defends Briohny and herself against criticisms that these ads sexually objectify women by stating “ Our intention was to inspire and show the beauty of a body that practices regular yoga.”
Most of the following commentary on Budig’s article and Briohny’s Equinox ad, veers between two poles – this is just the same ole sexual objectification of women versus those who claim it is glorification of the beauty of the female form.
But what no one seems to mention, is the glaringly obvious fact (at least to me) that this is NOT what a body that regularly practices yoga looks like – and I’ve been practicing yoga for 15 years for Pete’s sake!
C’mon folks, let’s get real. The body featured in the Equinox ad is not result of regular yoga practice, it’s the body of a finely honed athlete, a dancer, someone who pushes their body to the limits. This is a body in training – but in training for what? To mistake yoga for a performance or a competitive sport goes a long way explaining why yoga “wrecks your body” as the recent article causing such a furor in the yoga world points out.
To think that one emerges carved and rail thin as a result of a regular yoga routine begs the question – what kind of routine are we talking about? A punishing daily routine of Power Yoga in 101 degree temperature is what.
The ‘yoga body’ is a fiction, and its a fiction judging by the favorable commentary on Budig’s post and the video, that many are buying. Numerous comments in the thread were positively yearning ” ….“I only practice yoga twice a week and know that I’ll never achieve that, but it’s still a goal to work toward….. I only hope to achieve your level after years of practice… I’m inspired even though I just got started with yoga….The control she has of her body is astounding! This is inspiring me to take up yoga!”
Comments like these are why I believe we have a responsibility, however tiring it has become, to continue stating the obvious. Yoga blogger Roseanne Harvey points out that protesting such advertising only feeds into the marketing strategy of nude yoga campaigns.
She writes “I’m starting to think that the best policy is to let my silence speak louder than my words… because this is what the brand wants (this is the intention behind the video: not to show a “powerful” or “empowered” or “beautiful” practice; it’s viral marketing, and its ROI – return on investment – is determined by how many people are talking about it, how many click-throughs they get).”
Blogger Carol Horton, in her comment on Harvey’s post, agrees that silence might make these ads less viral but she also suggests that “ there are in fact some people out there who are learning something from these arguments.”
Yes precisely. Silence is a plausible strategy if the target of such campaigns were mature yogini’s such as Harvey – but they’re not. The target is those young women at risk of eating disorders and depression, who on seeing this ad might feel they don’t measure up. Who might feel that if they just pushed themselves further, ate a little less…and so the cycle of eating disorders and depression continues.
Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of women out there already practicing yoga, who by comparing themselves with this image, might just think there’s something wrong with them….maybe if they just worked a little harder, ate a little less….
But I don’t think the debate should be about whether such advertising objectifies women, of course it does -the debate is about what we can do about the underlying attitudes that allow it to flourish.
The real questions no one is asking are these – why do so few yoga teachers admit that they work hard to maintain their fat-free physiques?Why does the yoga world, from the cover of Yoga Journal to the glossy advertising of main stream studios, continue to display the “yoga body “ as a norm? Where are the images of average woman with rounded thighs and obvious bellies, women who practice yoga with regularity and passion?
Perhaps they are absent, if we are honest with ourselves, because we don’t want to give up the fiction? Ads like Equinox transfix because we have bought into the underlying premise that the yoga body is worth having, that it is a currency by which we purchase success .
Women have mistakenly conflated power and control in the world, with power and control over our bodies. And without a doubt, it is an assumption that the corporate world works to exploit and ever aggrandize.
Lets face it, the yoga body is not a healthy ideal. It is a body overworked and underfed. It is not the result of regular yoga classes but the result of a narcissistic obsession with working out. And it is driven less by empowerment than by feeling ‘fat and inferior’ as Briohny herself states in Budig’s post.
This is the Beauty Myth, that feminist author Naomi Wolf has written so eloquently about. A myth that by keeping us chained to self loathing, robs us of energy, time and money, and prevents us from achieving real power in the world.
5 Surprising Benefits of Yoga
(reprinted from http://blogs.yogajournal.com)
When I decided to take my first yoga class, I knew it would help me to stretch and reduce stress. I even knew that there were a slew of supposed health benefits, too. (Of course, it’s hard to believe that all of these things can be true until you experience it yourself.)
But after just a few months of practicing, I noticed benefits I never even realized were a possibility from doing a few guided stretches and breathing exercises on a piece of PVC.
Here are the 5 benefits of yoga I found most surprising:
1. Compassion. Who would have thought that a physical practice could help me feel compassion and understanding for myself and those around me? Yoga philosophy tells us that we’re all one, but it’s the experience of many bodies moving and breathing simultaneously that I think really created that understanding for me. I realized that we’re all just doing the best we can in life. There’s something very liberating about that mind-set that can melt away ill-will, competition, and petty disagreements like nothing else.
2. Mindful eating. I am not a health-food yogi. In fact, at one point in my life, my daily diet consisted of little more than chicken fingers, French fries, and soda. But after a just a few months of yoga, I found myself craving leafy greens. Yoga changed the way I ate because I started to pay more attention to how the food I took into my body affected me. I still eat my share of junk food (I do love a good cupcake!), but thanks to my yoga practice, it’s an occasional treat instead of a daily habit.
3. Strength! I was shocked when I realized how much strength it took to get through a yoga class. I was even more surprised by how quickly how strength-building poses that were once incredibly difficult for me got a little easier. I wasn’t just getting more flexible–I was becoming stronger, too!
4. Confidence. It’s one thing for someone to tell you that you can do anything you set your mind to. It’s another thing to actually experience it for yourself. It takes a lot of time and determination to stand on your head, hold the weight of your body on your hands, or even just to consistently unroll your mat to practice. But once you’ve experienced it, you really start to believe you can do anything! You also start to see a beauty in yourself that you never knew was there. For me, this translated into a boost of confidence that I really needed.
5. Better relationships. What do you get when you mix a little heightened awareness, a dash of compassion, a pinch of self-confidence, and a smidge of positivity? The ability to relate to people in a more meaningful way. And that means you get a stronger network of friends, confidants, and supporters. Of all the benefits I’ve reaped from my yoga practice, perhaps this is the most valuable of all.
What benefits have you noticed from the practice that would have surprised you when you first started out?
Erica Rodefer is a writer and yoga enthusiast in
Charleston, SC. Visit her blog, Spoiledyogi.com,
Come check out our plus size yoga classes in Toronto! http://www.yogazoneplus.com
While doing some research I came across this article in the Yoga Journal and would like to share it. The health benefits of yoga are really incredible and all encompassing. I wish everyone would try yoga at least once so they can experience it for themselves!
Weight Loss with Yoga
Yoga is a great way to lose and keep off weight. Through regular practice, it can positively alter your consciousness in a way that it benefits your mind and body. Through regular and sustained yoga practice you can elongate your muscles, lose weight and
learn to be more present, thus helping with anxiety, depression, eating disorders and a slew of other conditions.
Yoga has long been thought of as a great way to increase flexibility and relieve stress. Many people have seen the wonderful benefits yoga has in weight loss in recent years. Specific positions or asanas can target areas such as the abdomen, waist, and thighs. Those asanas that target the abdomen are the abdominal lift, the child pose, and the cobra pose. On the other hand, the downward and upward-facing dog poses, the hero pose, and the angle pose help tone the hips and thighs.
Any physical activity burns calories. Even as you sit and read this, you are already burning calories. When performing yoga, you can burn hundreds of calories per hour depending on the type of class. Though it generally burns fewer calories than more strenuous exercises, it works all the muscles in the body and tones them more evenly. Often seen as a low-impact form of exercise at the beginner level, yoga can be performed by almost anyone!
A healthy, balanced meal plan (with the appropriate level of calories for your body and goals) and a sustained program of yoga can help with long-term weight loss. Specific asanas can help increase your metabolism. The Salutation to the Sun, Pose of the Moon, Cobra pose, Bow Stretch, and Spinal twist all work to increase your metabolic rate and stimulate the endocrine system.
The best types of yoga for weight loss are considered to be the most physical. Ashtanga Yoga, Bikram Yoga, and Power Yoga are considered to be the most physical types. If you’ve never done yoga before, it is not advisable to start with the most physical types. Instead, try other types which are fit for beginners. You can try the most common form which is Hatha Yoga. Once you become comfortable with this style, you may already start to notice changes in your body.
Most people also find that meditation and breathing exercises they learn during yoga help them to increase their will power. Instead of giving in to their cravings, they perform a breathing exercise or maybe even meditate. Yoga generally makes you more clear headed, calm and happier…it promotes the well being necessary to quiet food cravings. To fight off cravings, increase your will power by trying this simple exercise. First, clear your mind. Breath deeply then repeat to yourself: “I will be healthier. I will be happier. I will live well” Positive reinforcement will surely help you lose weight with yoga.
If you are plus size and would like to try a class for bigger bodies, visit www.yogazoneplus.com. We offer classes specifically created for plus size people.
It was a big day yesterday, our first class ever at YogaZonePLUS. It couldn’t have gone better and everyone was really happy with the class and said they’d be back. We went for a drink afterwards and got some great feedback from the students. The next class will be even better!
There is only 1 spot left for the Saturday, March 24 1:15pm – 2:15pm class and 3 spots left for the Wednesday, March 28 6-7pm class. Click here to join: http://www.yogazoneplus.com/Contact-Us.html Classes in March are only $10.00…come try it out, it’s fun and you’ll meet some great people which stretching your whole body.