One of the benefits of this yoga tradition is that the poses can be adapted in an infinite number of ways to fit the individual’s needs. In this book, we offer as many choices as possible to meet your needs. You can choose not only the pose but the way of doing the pose that is best for you. If a certain pose does not feel right or might possibly injure you, suggestions are given for a different variation or pose. Often, an adaptation box shows you how to change the exercise for your requirements. Sometimes slight changes in a pose help you work harder or less hard if you have a problem with it. The programs presented are based on our combined forty-four years of teaching experience to the “average” person’s needs in a group class.
We include many ways of varying yoga poses, but obviously we cannot foresee all the needs of everyone who reads this book. Even if we tried to, we would have to show so many pose variations that the book would be extremely long and confusing. You are not average nobody is. You have your individual strengths and limitations. These lessons will help you to get started and practice. If you want to get the most out of yoga especially if you have serious pains or ailments we urge you to find an experienced, capable teacher who can adapt the poses and breathing specifically to your needs. Since we are not physically present with you to guide you into the safest and most helpful poses, please consult a competent teacher or your doctor about a pose before doing it if you are at all doubtful about it. If you encounter such a pose and want to continue doing a program, skip it and substitute a pose you feel comfortable with.
Practice and Experiment
The benefits of yoga practice are cumulative. If you practice properly you should feel better at the end of each session. If you can sustain your practice over a long period, you should feel a still greater benefit. It is not just that you become stronger or that you may be able to stretch and assume positions that you once thought were beyond you. Yoga retrains your mind and your nervous system, so that you learn to relax much more quickly. As you continue with yoga, you should gain a gradual sense of your own inner strength. You should find it easier to be the strong and focused person you really are. Experiment with the poses. Enjoy the feeling of combining slow breathing with slow movement. Find the programs that best suit you and your needs. Become more aware of those needs through yoga. Be patient. Enjoy your new strength, flexibility, stamina, and ability to focus. And remember that according to the ancient sage, Patanjali, the definition of yoga is “to stop the whirlings of the mind.” Yoga is far more than practicing acrobatic feats. It vitally links your body, breath, mind, and spirit.