By Sophie Cloyd
To be honest, I have not been inside a yoga studio since long before the pandemic started.
However, yoga has resurfaced in my life again, and the timing could not be better after this whirlwind of a year! I think we could all use a nice deep breath and some toxin-releasing stretches after 2020, am I right?
I originally found yoga back in college at the Oregon Community College here in Bend.
But when I moved to Eugene to attend the University of Oregon, I went on an electives-kick and decided to stack my schedule full of fitness courses. One of those courses was Vinyasa yoga, which I knew nothing about at the time, but I enrolled anyway.
I mistakenly took a boot camp class along with the yoga class in the same trimester. I wouldn’t recommend that! I got super toned that term, but it was painful.
Vinyasa Yoga was more about movement instead of just holding poses. To my understanding, vinyasa just means “a smooth transition between poses,” so it’s more of a constant flow.
We’d flow into a pose where you’re on your arms, then all of a sudden jump into 25 pushups. Every new pose seemed to shock my muscles into a challenging new stretch.
It could be super intense, but I was hooked!
Taking in what yoga is about, I started to realize it’s not like any other exercise. A lot of physical practices are competitive and feel like sports. But there’s no competition in yoga.
If you’ve ever been to a yoga class, you’ve probably had a teacher tell you to “leave your ego at the door,” and it could not be more true.
It’s about working on yourself; not worrying about what other people in the room — or anywhere else — are doing. It’s about listening to the instructor, focusing on your breath, getting in tune with your body, and freeing you from your mind.
Benefits of Yoga
Of course, yoga can be a killer workout for even the most seasoned athletes, but it’s also extremely therapeutic and relaxing.
Breath is everything in yoga, regardless of the type, and there are many. The one thing every type of yoga has in common is an emphasis on the breath.
Deep, focused breathing not only helps with the circulation of blood, but it really clears your mind and gets you into a trance-like state where movement seems to become easier.
A regular yoga practice will also do wonders for your sleep. Implementing the breathing used in a yoga class is actually a great way to put yourself to sleep quickly.
Yoga is an efficient way to release toxins, so it has been said to ease hangovers.
I have also heard it can benefit digestion, eliminating constipation and bloating by increasing circulation.
This type of low-impact workout is easier on your joints and bones, which is why you’ll see people who do yoga continue practicing well into their twilight years.
Yoga improves flexibility, therefore making you less likely to get injured, it boosts metabolism, and is even good cardio, despite being low-impact.
Mentally, there’s no comparison.
If you’re having a bad day or you just get stuck in an anxiety-induced loop, yoga can help release stress and clear your mind; at least for the duration of the class.
My mind wanders a lot. That’s why I love savasana, or “corpse pose,” at the end of the class. It’s like meditation for me.
Outside of yoga, I don’t seem to have the patience or the mindset for meditation. But in a yoga practice, I feel like I can actually reach that quiet place in my mind. The process of focusing on the breath with your body seems to make the outside world disappear.
It’s amazing what yoga can do for somebody’s mind that doesn’t seem to ever shut off.
Yoga in Bend, Oregon
Bend has some amazing yoga studios here in town. I’ve rounded up some of my favorites and a few I’m dying to check out after the pandemic, as well as a few studios that are offering virtual classes.
For in-studio and virtual classes, one of my favorites studios is The Yoga Lab Bend. If you’re looking for outdoor classes, Wild Thing Yoga is the place for you. Classes are temporarily canceled due to COVID-19; check online for more information.
If you’re looking for a one-on-one session or something special for you and some friends (yoga party, anyone?) Yoga Indigo offers customized classes and will come to the location of your choice. I also recommend Groove Yoga who holds classes every day and steams all of them.
Bend Beer Yoga is a cool traveling event that includes yoga AND beer. What more could you want? Not a fan of beer? Don’t worry, they have cider, wine, and cocktails too. They are not posting events currently due to COVID-19, but hopefully, they will be able to operate safely soon.
My absolute favorite studio is Sunny Yoga Kitchen. They serve up healthy dishes and host yoga classes (online for now). I hear the Burmese pork bowl with avocado is great, and you can’t go wrong with their house-made juices. You can even get Ablis beverages there!
Definitely bring your own mat! You can’t be too careful nowadays.
I personally need the Spotify playlist called Vinyasa Yoga. It’s uplifting and very, very soothing. I can’t workout without music and it helps me get even deeper into that blissful state of thoughtlessness.
I like to eat beforehand, but apparently, that is not a popular opinion. I’m sure most would recommend something like a light snack, but I usually eat well before I do yoga, or else I get lightheaded. So, I’m usually well-fed and well-hydrated pre-yoga.
Get a buddy! It is so much easier to be consistent and stick to a schedule with a friend.
Create a space for your practice. If you have a section in your house that you can set up where you know you won’t be interrupted, set it up so you’re ready to go.
Make it as easy as possible for you to get excited about!
Better With Friends
My good friend lives about ten blocks up the road, so I’ll drive over there for our weekly yoga meetup.
In the beginning, we were following a DVD yoga practice somewhat regularly. I think 2020 has been really difficult for everyone, so it’s kind of turned into a wine-and-karaoke night while dressed for yoga.
Don’t take it too seriously! The heart wants what it wants.
I’m practicing on my own once a week currently, but my goal is to get up to two to three times a week. As I said, it’s been a hard year, so I haven’t been too rigid with myself.
Self-care isn’t something that should stress you out, and that’s what yoga is at its core. It definitely helps me navigate home life and kids a little more easily. Plus, yoga is something that is just for me, and I don’t get a ton of that as a mom of two little ones.
Making time for yourself is a big part of overall wellness. If you can create a little community out of it, all the better!
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