By: Ann-Noelle McCowan, M.S, RYT
Guidance Counselor; Yoga Specialist
As yoga continues to expand its popularity and presence many people still worry that there is something that prohibits their beginning a yoga practice. Yoga increases strength, balance and flexibility while decreasing stress. Yoga increases athletic performance, improves respiration, and promotes better sleep quality. It has been used successfully as a complementary therapy for mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, addiction and chronic pain. As an “inflexible” yogi who has worked with a broad range of yogis, both as a student and a teacher I have seen that yoga truly is for anyone. May this review of some if the most common misconceptions to yoga reduce the roadblocks and invite you to step onto a mat in 2019.
- I’m too inflexible for yoga. This may be the most common reason many people give, perhaps due to the images of bendy people in yoga poses on social media or in print. But do beginner Spanish speakers say they can’t take Spanish lessons because they don’t speak Spanish? Yoga classes will include multiple props (blocks, straps, blankets) to help modify for all different bodies and continued practice will build greater flexibility. I love props and continue to use blocks in certain poses because that works for my body.
- I don’t have special yoga clothes or the right mat. Having practiced in studios, homes, and schools you don’t need particular clothes to do yoga, just clothing that allows you to move is sufficient. Many yoga studios or gyms also offer rental mats, or mats to borrow which is the case at NESCA.
- I don’t have the right body/ want to lose weight first… Similar to point 1 yoga is adaptable and designed for anybody. Blocks, blankets, and props are available. There is a broad range of classes to try from beginner, or Yin to help increase your comfort in a yoga class. A yoga practice can also help you be more accepting of your body and build healthy habits.
- I’m too old/young/ wrong gender to do yoga. A quick Google search provides instructors of all ages and genders, from Tabay Atkins, an 11-year-old male yoga teacher, to Tao Porchon- Lynch, at 100-year-old female instructor. There are resources and books designed for people age 1 to 100 and classes where parents can bring their baby to modified classes in chairs or entirely on the floor. My own teacher training there was a wide range of trainees, from their 20’s to grandmothers and they are the examples you may see leading your class. While yoga was originally taught by men to men, the focus has switched and classes now include both men and women.
- Yoga is too spiritual/ I don’t want a clash with my beliefs. Yoga is taught in a broad range of locations and by different teachers. By reading the teacher bios you will get a sense of how they approach yoga. Classes range from a purely physical experience to ones that may include some chanting. Many students find their yoga practice enhances their own compassion and in focusing on your own breath and experience you can take your practice in the direction you want, and not where you want.
Wishing you a happy holiday and that 2019 may be the year you add some yoga to your life!
About the Author:
Ann-Noelle provides therapeutic yoga-counseling sessions individually designed for each child. NESCA therapeutic yoga establishes a safe space for a child to face their challenges while nourishing their innate strengths using the threefold combination of yoga movement, yoga breath, and yoga thinking.
Ann-Noelle has worked with children and adolescents since 2001 and practiced yoga and meditation since 2005. Since 2003 she has been employed full time as a school counselor in a local high performing school district, and prior to that was employed in the San Francisco Public Schools. Ann-Noelle received her dual Masters Degree (MS) in Marriage, Family and Child Therapy (MFCC), and School Counseling from San Francisco State University in 2002, her BA from Union College in New York, and her 200 hour-Registered Yoga Credential (RYT) from Shri Yoga. Ann-Noelle completed additional Yoga training including the Kid Asana Program in 2014, Trauma in Children in 2016 and Adaptive yoga for Parkinson’s in 2014.
If you are interested in therapeutic yoga with Ms. McCowan, please complete NESCA’s intake form today and indicate interest in “Yoga”
For more information on the therapeutic yoga at NESCA, please visit https://nesca-newton.com/yoga/
Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents (NESCA) is a pediatric neuropsychology practice and integrative treatment center with offices in Newton, Massachusetts, Plainville, Massachusetts, and Londonderry, New Hampshire, serving clients from preschool through young adulthood and their families. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617-658-9800.