why do yogaI do yoga because I feel better afterwards, every time. No matter how sore I am, or how sad I am, or how irritated, I always feel better after practicing yoga.

I started a home practice of yoga when I quit smoking. The breathing exercises, along with the meditative aspects of the yoga exercises relieved the craving for cigarettes. I used a cassette tape that ran for 45 minutes. Every time I did it, I felt better afterwards. I think most people are attracted to yoga because of pain. Physical pain in the back, hips or shoulders; or a feeling that the body is getting tight and needs stretching. Sometimes it is emotional pain that calls us to yoga, as it was for me attempting to make it through nicotine craving.

Having taught yoga classes for 23 years, I see that people come to class to feel better: to stretch out tightness, to calm down stress, to ease chronic pain, to build strength and balance in the physical body. I have found that one of the wonderful side effects of a yoga practice is a growing friendliness with myself. As a plumpish teenager in America, I had plenty of opportunity to feel ashamed of my body, and many feelings of not being good enough were reflected back to me by my family and my culture. My yoga practice helps me remember a tenderness and compassion for myself, a birthright I reclaim every time I get down on my yoga mat and practice moving and breathing with awareness.

Kripalu and Yin Yoga

In my classes, I offer a mixture of Kripalu and Yin Yoga, merging the two traditions into a slow, meditative series of classical yoga asanas (postures or poses). Pranayama (breath control) and simple breath awareness meditation techniques are woven throughout the hour and a half class, ending with a short relaxation. Everyone who comes to my class is encouraged to work at their own pace.

In 2014, I received yoga training at the Beth Wright Cancer Resource Center to work with people who have experienced cancer in their lives. If this is you, and you wonder if yoga would be helpful for recovering and maintaining health, I offer a free consultation to consider what your questions and concerns might be.

I can be reached at bearsdengeri@gmail.com. I’m sorry, I don’t have a telephone. Snail mail is an option if you don’t use a computer: Geri Valentine, 34 Bears Den, Addison, ME 04606-3301

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