When most people think of yoga, they think of thin fit people twisting their bodies into pretzels. That may be one aspect of yoga, but it’s not representative of everything yoga can be. At The Yoga Room, we offer a variety of class styles to meet the goals of a diverse group of people. But my own personal favorites are our therapeutic classes.
This week we kick off a 3 week blog series all about therapeutic yoga. This week I’ll tell you about what therapeutic yoga is and who it’s good for. Next week I’ll introduce our teachers who offer therapeutic classes, and in the third week I’ll share therapeutic Yoga Success Stories. We’ll also have a contest running throughout this blog series, and the winner will win a $100 gift certificate to the studio, so stay tuned for more on that!
What is Therapeutic Yoga?
Therapeutic yoga is typically a gentle style of yoga that is aims to help your body be healthy. Given that people can have a vast range of issues going on in their bodies, therapeutic yoga is typically offered in small or private classes so that the practice can be customized to suit the needs of the students.
On our regular weekly schedule, our Gentle classes are our most therapeutic offering. And Gentle classes are among our most popular classes, so they’re offered pretty much every morning and every evening.
(Our two studio spaces are small and each class size is typically not more than 12. That said, there is no need to RSVP or pre-register for our Gentle classes - when we see that classes become crowded, we add more classes to our schedule to create additional capacity.)
In our Gentle classes, we begin with a round of introductions so that each person can tell the teacher what is going on in their body that particular day. We teachers like to know everything about your body, even if it seems minor to you.
If you had knee surgery 5 years ago and it feels fine now, we’d like to know. If you have scoliosis, or if you broke your little toe last week, or if you’re pregnant, or if your neck and shoulders are tight, or if you have allergies, or if you had a spinal fusion, or if any other thing is going on, we’d like to know! :)
If you prefer to tell us privately, that is also perfectly fine. Just catch us before class and we can have a quick private chat.
The reason we like to know about what’s going on in your body is so that we can modify and adjust the practice to best serve your needs and goals.
How We Customize the Practice
In our Gentle classes (and even in Hatha I, to some degree), we really take into consideration everyone’s issues and customize the practice. We customize the practice in two ways:
- We focus on poses that are useful for everyone.
- We modify poses that are useful but not easily accessible for everyone. Poses can be modified for the whole group or for individual people.
For example, if the majority of the class has tightness in the neck and shoulders, throughout the class we’ll sprinkle in poses that address the neck and shoulders.
If some people have low back pain that an be remedied with hip stretches, we’ll do hip stretches. But here's where it gets a little special. Many hip stretches are done from a kneeling position, so if some people in class have knee issues and are uncomfortable kneeling, we offer modified poses that work on the hips without putting any pressure on the knees.
A very cool thing about yoga is that there are literally thousands of poses. A skilled teacher can pick and choose from those poses to create a practice that works for everyone. And the teachers at The Yoga Room are so experienced at customizing and modifying that the practice is seamless and discreet. No one needs to feel self-conscious because no one is even going to realize that the teacher’s created a special modification for you.
And anyway, everyone is so focused on their own practice that no one even notices what anyone else is doing. Besides, everyone at the studio (students and teachers alike) is so kind and warm (and loving, even) that even if someone did notice your personal modification, no one would judge you.
A Real Story From Class This Morning
In my Gentle class this morning, I went around the room asking each person what was going on in their body and what they’d like to focus on in today’s class. Each person told me what was achy or tight - their neck and shoulders, their low back, their hips, etc.
As I got around to the second and third rows of people, a few people told me they were feeling fine.
After I had heard from everybody, I realized that everyone who felt fine were people who come to yoga classes almost every day. The ones who had aches and pains are the ones who come in once a week or less frequently.
Moral of the story: If you want to resolve the aches and pains in your body, practice yoga every day!
From now through the end of June, we’d love to hear from you about your Yoga Success Story. Send us an email to tell us about what has improved in your body or life since you started practicing yoga.
Over the years we’ve heard of people getting taller, getting off their blood pressure and diabetes medication, sleeping better, and all sorts of other great things. Send us a short note and tell us about your experience to be entered in our contest.
We’ll pick the most compelling Yoga Success Story and announce the winner in our July 2nd newsletter. No matter how simple or amazing your story, we’d really love to hear from you!
Please stay tuned for next week’s newsletter. In Week 2 of our Therapeutic Yoga blog series we’ll introduce all of our teachers who offer therapeutic classes, workshops, or lessons, and learn why they chose their area of specialization.
Lots of love, Zelinda
P.S. If you know someone who might benefit from therapeutic yoga classes, please forward them this newsletter! We'd love to help them!