Are there pros and cons of yoga you should be aware of?
Over the time I’ve been running the Inspired Abundance website, I’ve posted articles from time to time on the value of yoga and how it can be an integral part of your personal development practice.
Yoga can play a prominent role both in your spiritual practice as well as in your physical fitness practice.
It’s never been a topic of particular focus in my writing, yet I’ve always found it interesting how often people come across this site by searching for information about the pros and cons of yoga.
That’s what’s prompted me to put together this post on the pros and cons of yoga … and to do that I’ve solicited input from a professional.
So here it goes …
Are there advantages and disadvantages of yoga you should be aware of?
Over the past several years, I’ve gotten to know and had the privilege to spend some time with a local Winnipeg yoga instructor named Beth Martens. Beth has been back and forth to India a number of times and she lives yoga at a level beyond many other yoga teachers I have encountered.
In a recent conversation, I suggested to Beth that she should share her perspective on the pros and cons of yoga … since it is a topic people continue to ask about.
Here’s her take on the subject.
What are the pros and cons of yoga … from the perspective of Winnipeg yoga instructor Beth Martens
These days, given its popularity, yoga is often put out as a one-size fits all, cure all, be all and end all. You often see the phrase, “Yoga is for Everybody!”
I’m tempted to agree of course, because I teach yoga for a living, because I’ve devoted my adult life to it and because I have seen a yoga practice completely transform myself, and many others.
However, my interest in yoga coaching has begun to shift my approach. I prefer to stay connected to those who are already getting the benefit of what I do, who have been in my zone and know that means engaging at a deep and committed level.
I was recently challenged by Warren Wojnowski, the fellow who has created my websites for me, to write an article about the pros and cons of yoga, because as it turns out, people need to hear the truth about who can really benefit, and for whom it will drop away like other fitness fads that have come and gone.
What Are the Pros of Yoga?
Flexibile schedule and hips.
After a few trips to India where I studied yoga at its source, at the banks of the sacred River Vyaas that feeds the River Ganges from the peaks of the Himalaya, I learned how to take the practice into my own daily life, no matter where I geographically put my body. Personally, that is one of my favourite thing about yoga is that it offers me a fully flexible schedule. It has also conditioned my health, to where I feel more flexible and stronger than I ever was in my teens and early 20′s.
I was taught, luckily, that the point of studying with teachers, was so I could practice on my own – and this was considered equally important as following guides. So thanks to a nine-month immersion experience, (my first trip to India), I was ready to do a daily practice that included meditation, yoga poses, breath and contemplations.
Since then I have my yoga any time, any where. I am utterly independent in my practice. There are no scheduling conflicts, missed practices or regrets about having made a commitment to myself that was unfulfilled.
I was taught, again at the source, that a daily practice is more important than a rigidly scheduled one. That means that better to set your goal on doing yoga every day, rather than doing it at xx time and place every day. That way the perceived failure goes way down. And the sense of having a flexible life, as well as body, goes way up!
Yoga has enormous scope.
Personally, I’ve always been attracted to big subjects and railed against the increasing specialization of our world (thought there’s nothing inherently wrong with it!).
I landed in an honours anthropology program in university, because I discovered that unlike any other subject that was available, it had the largest scope of any. Why? Because human beings decided that any study of humans could be related to nearly anything – geography, climate, science, art, culture and on. Great, I’m in!
In my last year of an undergrad program, I completed a directed study on The Transformation of Consciousness through Shamanic Initiation – again the biggest subject I could find. And it led me directly to yoga, because even the biggest subject to anthropology was severely limited as it tried incessantly, annoyingly to remove the observer, the subject.
When I got to yoga, it is revealed over and over that the subject – ourselves – is in fact where we have to begin. Any study that doesn’t include the observer is not telling the whole story, and while anthropology would struggle with this subject, yoga put the subject out as the entire point. And because the subject is the door to any object, then yoga’s ability to approach any subject as higher than anything I’ve come across.Makes your heart sing even if just like a jail bird.
Without fail, the practice of yoga gives me joy. Not the fast food version (see below), but the long, slow burn of growing awareness, self discovery and the feeling that we can live right from the heart of our purpose.
At times when I felt everything was lost to me, I turned to these practices. They returned to me a staggering wealth of inspiration to keep going, to put one foot in front of the other, and even under the worst circumstances, to still feel the subtle bliss of life itself.
What are the Cons of Yoga?
Requires commitment to have pleasure with it.
Whomever seeks the quick fix for their ills, or the blue pill for their blues, or simple answers to simple questions, will not be happy doing yoga.
Instead, they will quickly be frustrated with the fact that it can take years to open the hips that have been tightened by a life time of sitting in chairs, and more years to lengthen hamstrings that have been compacted by lifestyles that don’t require us to touch our toes.
Not to mention how long you may have to regularly meditate to sense that there are spaces between your thoughts.
Or the what-seems-like eons before your exhale relaxes, or your teeth remember not to grind themselves at night while sleeping. Or for your shoulders to realize they are not in fact part of your ears.
Back to the pleasure part, the true pleasures of life are revealed and made exponentially more available through a yoga practice. I will no doubt be blogging more on this in the future, as it is one of my favourite subjects.
Despite the prescribed austerities in some yogic traditions, it is my experience that yoga can unblock all the path ways that would from your labour of love, give way to flow and the experience of deep human pleasure.
Yoga self-enforces a slow food lifestyle – more on that to come in the future.
Yoga will make you painfully aware.
Likely the worst of what should stop someone from blindly going into their yoga practice without a clue of the pros and cons, was illustrated beautifully in an account of a discussion with the Dalai Lama.
Upon the death of someone with whom he was close with, he was asked why he, an enlightened master who had faced many hardships including exile from his own country and the torture of his people to this day, would he experience grief?
His answer was a staggering affirmation of what i had already discovered about my yoga practice – that it made me more sensitive by the day.
I was no longer able to watch violent movies or much of the news when on the same subject.
I was no longer able to turn away from a child begging in India.
I was no longer able to turn away from my own body in its time of crisis and soul reclamation.
I was no longer able to go into a bar and avoid the inevitable shrinking of my spirit as the alcohol dissolved consciousness right down the drain.
I did actually believe that my yoga practice would give me better endurance, make me more resilient and more able to take on the BS of the world.
Actually it’s made it harder to integrate and feel normal about the habitual trouble in which the world finds itself. If I went back to cons, however, I’d have to share that it has allowed me to create new normals, new standards for consciousness and new ways of being that are life supportive, loving and fully alive.
Visit Beth Martens Website
Would you like to learn more about the pros and cons of yoga?
If you would like to learn more about the pros and cons of yoga and how to do yoga the right way in order to lose weight, live life pain free, full of energy and vitality … then Click Here To Learn More About the Pros and Cons of Yoga. (opens a new window)
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