By Christopher Schonberger
When a recent grad suddenly expresses interest in yoga, you know that they are either extremely hungover or have recently been thinking about “the future” and got depressed. Maybe they’re not exactly sure what’s wrong, but they know they need a lifestyle change to get back on track. Simply “working out” will not suffice. They feel the need to address the mind-body-and-soul trifecta in its totality…preferably all at once, for about an hour at a time.
Within the twentysomething psychology, yoga is often privileged as a “cure-all” for a life gone slightly off the rails. No “get right by life” plan is complete without a little downward-facing dog thrown into the mix. I know because I’ve walked down the path to…uh, the yoga studio…with little more than a vague sense of purpose. “If I don’t start stretching soon, I’m gonna be in a wheelchair by the time I’m 40,” I’d think to myself. “I need something to counteract the stress of being unemployed.”
Yoga fit the bill on all fronts, and even after watching a girl start crying in the “frog position,” I still recommend that people try it. That said, I made some beginner’s mistakes and got myself into some positions that I literally didn’t enjoy, so I thought I’d share some tips for entering the world of semi-meditative exercise. Don’t expect it to make you a better person (don’t tell the instructor I said that!), but do expect to have some fun and feel pretty good.
An Extremely Brief and Borderline Offensive History of Yoga
Well before Christ, people in India were living abstemiously and meditating all the time in hopes of achieving the Hindu holy grail of “enlightenment.” This sort of thing went on for thousands of years (and it still does in some places), but it really has nothing to do with the yoga-as-exercise craze that has swept the Western world. (Fun Fact: Yoga is a $4 billion a year industry in the U.S. alone.) Many of the practices you'll find today were "invented" in the '90s and are just as likely to feature wisdom from Michael Jordan's biography as the Hindu scriptures. Think self-empowerment and "good living" rather than spiritual enlightenment—Spice World!
Choosing the Right Yoga Class
The yoga spectrum stretch...