Expanding Your Reach


You’re a Yoga Teacher.  Congratulations! You have practiced and worked hard to gather strength and knowledge about the body and all that yoga can do to bring balance and harmony to it.  The work you have done is, in itself, a personal reward and you are so happy to be able to aid others in the same kind of beneficial journey. Have you formulated a compelling response to those who ask about yoga and why they should participate? Here’s a few ideas:

Physicality – Yoga brings students of many different physical levels together and allows learning from each other’s different body types and strengths.   We all know of certain poses we’d rather avoid.  As you learn more about those poses and the different modifications for them, you may very well be able to approach them from a different angle and ultimately embrace them and the new strength they encourage.

Community – Delving deep into your own spiritual and physical practice allows you to support  the journey of those around you and create a support network of yogis.

Spirituality – Many people who deepen their yoga practice leave with a spiritual practice rooted in the understanding that we as people are all very connected even if we share different beliefs.  Yoga serves to help quiet the mind and attune to ourselves. This awareness provides a means to live a more conscious lifestyle and focus on what matters most.

Peace– The body awareness that is involved with yoga also teaches yogis to constantly breathe.  Because breathing is a somewhat involuntary activity, most people underestimate the power that lies in purposeful deep breathing, especially in times of stress and turmoil.  You can prevent knotted muscles and pain, as well as unfortunate actions/words towards others by simply taking that deep breath.

Focus- It’s a common topic but so true, the chaos in which  our efficient, technology-driven lives can become entangled. We attend to many different tasks within a matter of minutes and what is neglected is our ability to give full attention to one thing for many moments.  Yoga is absolutely a viable solution to re-sharpen our skill of focus and attention.

Anchor- Whether you ascribe to a certain religion or not, all people need something they recognize and commit to that is larger than themselves and that is a constant in life’s ups and downs. The practice of Yoga and the community that can be formed around it serves as a brilliant way to help people cope with life.

In conversation with your next prospective yogi, you may reflect on these talking points, or they may lead you to share your own unique experiences with yoga and the beautiful reasons why you teach it.   We need more dialogue that is focused on helping ourselves and each other.  What a gift you have to offer to those around you who notice your vibrance and peace!  May you go gently into those shared moments.  Invite more people to your practice and all its benefits with membership in the new, online marketplace of thebiggreengym.com.  Find those who are looking for what you can offer at thebiggreengym.com today!







Yoga + Sports = Wins


In most fitness circles of the West, Yoga has been thought of as a purely Eastern activity mostly about stretching and moaning and getting tied up in strange “body knots”.  Would it surprise you to learn that 73% of respondents to a recent poll at runnersworld.com said they do not practice yoga?  It may not be surprising, but we think it should be.  We believe that yoga has great benefits for the Western as well as the Eastern athlete.


“Why?” you ask.  Studies have shown that yoga dispels stress, helps with weight loss, comforts pain, helps consistency with an exercise routine, and even improves a runner’s time. The strength and flexibility you develop in Yoga–namely in the core, quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors–can help you run more efficiently and stay injury-free, says Adam St. Pierre, a coach, biomechanist, and exercise physiologist for the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine. Additionally, holding challenging yoga poses builds strength and determination that will come back to you on the running track. Lauren Fleshman, a two-time national outdoor 5000-meter champion, began practicing yoga after breaking her foot in 2008. But the poses strengthened more than just her foot: “Yoga helps me control my emotions while I’m in discomfort on the road,” she says. “Enduring an intense pose is a lot like enduring a long run or tempo run.”


Yoga is not only a boon to runners, but to gymnasts as well.  You would think that  gymnasts acquire all the stretching they need on their own, but not so.  Certain yoga stances demand a level of flexibility and as they are practiced; loosening occurs.  Poses such as Monkey, Plow, and Full Wheel complement the motions and movements of a gymnast.  Holding these positions in combination with deep breathing brings great benefit. Also, since  yoga emphasizes correct spinal alignment, it can help one work towards better posture. Several poses stretch the muscles in the back and shoulders, and help lengthen the spine. A few poses that may be particularly helpful for gymnasts are Twists such as Sage pose and Half-Lord of the Fishes pose, which helps bring balance to the spine. Backbends like Cobra and Bridge pose open the back and encourage strength that lifts the shoulders. The traditional Lotus pose builds up the spine to keep proper posture. Lotus pose begins on the floor in a comfortable cross-legged position. If your body allows, pull both feet up onto the thighs. Allow the chin to lower slightly, keeping your gaze in front of you. With relaxed shoulders, rest your hands on your lap.


Make balance a priority. When your workouts in running or in your chosen sport are most demanding, stick with yoga that is more relaxing and more focused on breath and meditation.  Conversely, in the off-season of your sport, you can attempt more challenging yoga flows that will work towards greater strength, thus optimizing and supporting your body’s needs.

    There are as many yoga offerings out there as there are people practicing.  What is important is that you find an atmosphere and an instructor that allows you to feel most at ease so that you will be consistent in your practice.  It can take years to become an expert at yoga poses, so don’t expect that at your first class no matter how great of an athlete you are. So often, people who excel in a given sport become hyper-focused on achieving greater accomplishments than “the next guy”.  In Yoga, you are encouraged to pay attention to your own body and respond lovingly to it.  Taking small steps to greater strength and flexibility over time is more important that “striking that pose” and holding it to eternity. Initially, the goal for competitive athletes in practicing yoga may just be to avoid injury. In 2011, the ultrarunner, St. Pierre,  got too aggressive in pigeon pose, trying to stretch his glutes and piriformis, and missed three months of running as a result.  Yoga instructors should be able to offer advice on targeting overly tight muscles with pose modifications.

Hopefully, the Western world as a whole is beginning to abandon outdated ideas about Yoga and is actively allowing Yoga to come alongside other forms of fitness to receive greater health.