There was a time when medical wisdom was that bed rest was good care for a heart condition. A lot of thought and research has led us away from that notion. We have come to understand the role of activity in healing, as well as in maintaining health. We also have a better idea of how multifactorial health and wellness are. One of the most interesting early studies to look at this was the lifestyle heart trial of Dr. Ornish. He showed how exercise, diet, and lifestyle support eachother.
There are many different types of 'fitness plans' for different goals and needs: reduction of lifestyle health risks, injury rehab, general fitness, stress reduction, and sport specific training are some of the main ones. Yoga can have a role in many of these programs. I've talked in the past a bit about yoga for runners, and yoga for stress reduction, and so on. Because I have had quite a few soccer players lately, I would like to talk a bit about how your yoga can be helpful, either in off season or during your playing season.
We often talk about yoga as a 'mind/body' exercise, or about the practice of 'mindfulness', as though it was a simple dichotomy: Here is a mind and here is a body and I will put them together and be mindful. I think this is all very interesting, but a lot more nuanced and complex in practice. I've been teaching introductory mindfulness techniques in daily life for a while, and my sense is that it is helpful to have a theoretical framework in place that captures some of this nuance.
Yoga is so often misunderstood. It can bring in so many health benefits for both the body and the mind, improving functioning and even offering back pain relief, together with helping deal with other illnesses that would affect posture. Yoga has a really important aim to change traditional habits and help people achieve a better sense of well-being.
When we first met my husband used to joke about how I cooked multi course dinners with just a fork. This is hyperbole, but it is true I didn't have a microwave or a blender or a food processor or a mandolin or a meat thermometer, or.... well, you get the idea. It isn't that I didn't cook. I rarely ate out and baked bread weekly for a long time, and even made dozens of boxes of chocolates at Christmas time. I just never saw the sense of having more kitchen ware than I needed, and was happy to do things like kneeding dough by hand.
Background (Skip this if the Historical/philosophical stuff annoys you) Planks are ubiquitous. I have seen them in the yoga studio, the gym, the karate dojo and the fencing studio. It is not so surprising that there will be overlap in physical disciplines from different cultures and among different sports: both the human body and the laws of the physical universe are the same throughout our world.
When we think of modifications it is often from a specific point of view.... “I have something going on that makes my usual practice/workout painful or inaccessible, so how do I work around it”. When a trainer or instructor first learns how to teach or train they generally will learn about common conditions and how they effect the body, and specific ways to 'modify' to those conditions. This is all very helpful.
When I used to have my own space and ran my own program I used to tell people who approached me about classes to buy a single class first, before they bought the 6 class pass. I knew I was competent: that was not the question. But not every teacher is the right teacher for every student. For me teaching yoga was never about how many bodies I could pack in the room, or how much money I could make, or how much press I could generate. It is kind of like the packaged food in the market....
Yoga studios tend to have a certain look. Part of this has to do with the practical needs of doing yoga. For example, a carpeted floor tends to hold more dust, and is less desireable for a practice where your face is regularly close to the floor. Part has to do with the rather long and highly fluid history of the practice of yoga.
When you come into a yoga class it is very typical to spend some time sitting quietly. I will often explain to my students that this time is not some sort of 'before', but is a part of the class. In any 'mind/body' modality it is important to foster the conditions where the connections of the stream of thought and the stream of movement can become seamless.