How to master the basics of yoga

Yoga 6

BY Molly Congdon
Gazette Reporter

CLIFTON PARK—Secretly we all want to attend a yoga class, lay out our mat and bend our body into these beautiful, intricate forms like the dough of a pretzel.

For most of us, the reality doesn’t quite measure up to the image we have in our minds.

Despite this fact, yoga can be extremely beneficial to our minds, bodies and even our spirit.

“We tend to look externally for ways to ease stress, to ease anxiety; we tend to look externally as a source of happiness,” Melissa Leach, Executive Director of the Baptiste Foundation and—the only and area’s first— a 500 hour Baptiste certified instructor, said. “I think yoga is transformational in that we start to see that we are really the source of our own happiness.”

Leach has some tips for beginning the balancing practice of yoga.

Don’t quit: “Keep showing up and let go of the idea that the poses or the practice need to look a certain way,” Leach said. “Just focus on how it feels in your body, being present in the moment,”

Buddy system: “If it seems intimidating to go on your own, grab a friend,”Leach said. “It can always be more fun to do with someone.”

Trending and totally worth trying:“There are so many different studios and opportunities; yoga is popping up everywhere,”Leach said. “There’s no perceived pressure; the more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll get and the more fun it gets.”

Don’t strive for perfection, just be: Don’t let Instagram and Pinterest get you down…even though those poses are impressive to the eye. “the biggest mistake is probably thinking that they need to be doing something other than they already are,” “It’s like a level of expectation thinking that they need to be performing at a different level versus being in the practice in that day. It’s about showing up on your mat.”
Three most common poses-

Downward facing dog: “It’s almost ends up being a reset pose that you return back to in-between poses,” Leach said.“It’s a beginners inversion that can help relieve stress, but it also starts to strengthen your arms and shoulders and back. It starts to open your back body by stretching your hamstrings, calves and hands. You’re also really lengthening out your spine; everything we do in this day and age, we are compressing the spine rounding forward and this helps us regain some of the length back.”

Mountain pose: “You really are establishing a strong stable foundation where your bones and your joints are stacking and you’re creating a sense of balance and ease,”Leach said. “It’s balanced effort, there’s no struggling in this pose. From that pose all other poses are build off of it.”

Final relaxation: “This is everyone’s favorite pose,” Leach said. “Basically it’s like nap time; you’re laying down and for those of us, in our day and age, it’s really the hardest pose because it’s asking that you’re just completely relaxed, you’re not working hard. A lot of people have trouble with that, but it’s probably one of the most beneficial.”

She continued: “You’re allowing the practice to settle and to land in your body. The practice becomes a part of who you are and it balances your nervous system.”