There are several aspects that we should consider before starting yoga. Preconceptions aside regarding Hare Krishna chants or contortionism, because yoga is not that, there are still serious obstacles that may arise like the usual juggling to find a balance between your personal life and an absorbing career like veterinary.
Starting with our most precious asset – time – we should keep in mind that anything new implies a change in routine at any stage of life. Start with little steps, set realistic expectations, dedicate 10 minutes every day, whether it is early in the morning before doing anything else, when you find time alone at the end of the day, or even in between consultations or at any of the situations explained in our Vet Yogi Series. So don’t just go buying fancy Shiva statues, yoga books, expensive mats, or building an altar before finding that space in your life and feeling that it makes sense to you. Try to look at yoga as your internal, safe, and happy place and gradually build your practice.
Let’s get practical:
To start with, you can simply engage in breathing, find quietness, and from there gradually explore meditation techniques. If sitting with crossed legs on the floor is uncomfortable for some reason, sit in a chair or on a block that allows you to have a straight posture. The spine’s natural and straightforward movements synchronized with breath, lifting and stretching your arms, or easy torsions may allow you to deepen your meditation. You will already feel lighter and with more energy throughout the day.
Once you feel good during this first breathing and stretching phase, you may be wondering, “Ok, I like this, but which is my YOGA style?” Today, there are many yoga styles, studios, festivals, gym classes, tutorials, and online classes from great yoga teachers to choose from. As a rule of thumb, search for certified instructors or yoga studios that can hopefully teach you all the depth of yoga and not only the physical or external aspects. Find the style that suits you best, according to your age, body type, condition, lifestyle, previous injuries, or illnesses. Try to establish your goals and determine what you are looking for in yoga.
As an example, let’s suppose you’re a vet surgeon in your forties, mother or father of children, maybe a little out of shape, and with some back and neck pain, injuries in the shoulder and wrists. I advise starting with yoga therapy, Iyengar yoga style (using props to adapt postures), Chair Yoga , which allow you to start slowly, working your general posture with light exercises and torsions for your back, opening your shoulders , etc. After a few months and once “space” has been created in your body, we can insert more movement and focus on strength and resistance.
On the other hand, imagine you are a recent grad, doing full shifts including on-call emergencies, already feeling exhausted and with no time left. It may seem contradictory to advise you to add physical effort, especially if you already go to the gym, bike, or jog and feel fit. Still, you should consider a dynamic and challenging type of yoga, like ashtanga, vinyasa, or any kind in which you work every part of your body. Learning a complete series with a set sequence may release you from going to a studio. You just roll out your yoga mat and go for it.
After 12 years of practicing and 5 of teaching, I inevitably bring my veterinary background to assess and decide the best approach for each individual whenever I meet new students. Nonetheless, there is a common element I teach everyone, which is to begin and explore always the meditation part: as the ancient Yoga Sutra states, the practice of physical postures aims to release us from our mental and physical past conditionings to allow us to meditate… comfortably seated and with no pain. In the end, yoga practice as a full concept is Just That.
Namaste, take care and remember: keep it simple…
If you wish to contact Cris directly, go to our contact page here and let us know.