It’s Your Class! Get What You Want!
One of the things I have been taught when building my yoga business is to always and forever ask what my students want. It’s pretty simple advice that I have heard from several experts so I figure there must be some truth to it. I do send out a survey to my students from time to time, asking about class times and styles that they would like to see, and I also ask what they would like to see done better. All the responses I’ve received have been positive — my students say they really have nothing they’d like to see changed and they love all of the classes.
But one answer I received recently intrigued me. The student’s response was in the form of a question: “I would like to get stress relief, weight loss, and flexibility from my practice, but is it possible to get all three in one type of class?”
I teach several different types of classes, from yoga in chairs, to restorative, to powerful vinyasa. Each one is perfect for all three features, giving benefits in their own way. For instance, my restorative/stress release classes are designed to recharge your battery; we mindfully stretch, we do lots of deep breathing and consciously work on relaxing all of our muscles. It is easy to see the stress relief and the increase in flexibility that comes with doing this type of exercise. But what about weight loss? Well it doesn’t burn as many calories as a sweaty powerful vinyasa, but what it does do is it lowers cortisol levels, which in turn greatly decreases belly fat. And it also does a chemical retraining of the brain, helping us to become more mindful in our life and cut out the chatter that most of us deal with on a daily basis. Many of us have unhealthy eating patterns that we’re not even aware of, such as when we eat nervously or quickly. We don’t even think about it, we just do it. When we can slow the process down and calm the chatter, we make room for a more mindful lifestyle. We start noticing that one food will make us feel nourished, while another just makes us feel bloated. So in the weight loss category, restorative yoga is a powerful tool. So many times we will start an exercise regimen to lose weight, and maybe we do, but unless we can address what is going on in our mind, we may not have lasting results with our bodies.
What about gaining stress release in a vinyasa class? Okay, it is easy to see why this would be a powerful weight loss tool because the calories burned in a 60-minute vinyasa class can be as much 300. It is also easy to see why it will increase flexibility since the body heats up, making muscles more pliable, and thereby enabling them to become more readily stretched. But what about stress release? We can calm the mind when we are sitting quietly in easy pose in a restorative class, but we also have to take that same mindfulness into our practice when we are approaching a challenging arm balance. Stretching the muscles IS stress release; opening the body and making room for energy to move can be very calming, whether it is a vinyasa class or any other kind of class. When we gain strength and flexibility, there is a sense of empowerment. Feeling empowered is a great way to keep stress down. Knowing that we can face a challenge calmly gives us a wonderful “at peace” feeling.
So to answer the question, YES! We can and DO get it all in one class. It is more about setting your intentions. The poses are the same — we are likely to do all of the warrior poses in every class, even in the chair class, using the chair to hold on to for balance. It is what YOU bring to the pose that will give you the results you want.
Every day, from my vantage point, I see one person holding a strengthening warrior II, all the while their keeping eyes closed, looking mindfully inside, calm and centered, while another person may be looking over the fingernail of the middle finger in a fierce focused way, nevertheless also being mindful in their approach. And these two people may be side by side in the same class.
So the key is to set your intention, and from there you will receive stress release, weight loss, flexibility, and numerous other benefits — and it can all be achieved in one type of class.