If you are someone who has ever taken or even thought about taking a yoga class, you have undoubtedly been faced with a multitude of options. First you have your standard Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Bikram, Hot Yoga, Yin, Restorative, and Kundalini yoga classes. From there the titles get more creative as each studio and teacher put their own flare into their classes; combining, fusing, and supplementing yoga styles sometimes with other movement or spiritual traditions. A quick look at some of the top studios in Toronto gives us classes such as Functional Flow, Kundalini Vinyasa Fusion, Core Power Flow, Chakra Flow, Hatha HypnoZen, Yin Yang, Slow Flow Vinyasa, Moon Yoga, Yoga Conditioning, Detox Flow, Yoga Sculpt, Goddess Flow, Bliss Yoga, and Yogalates. Phew!!
And now I am writing to you about Mindful Yoga. What in the heck is Mindful Yoga, and are all these styles really that different? Are they even still yoga? As with many questions, the short answer is both yes and no. It’s true, the practice of yoga has evolved significantly here in the West and continues to do so, so much so that it is sometimes difficult to say that what we are currently seeing can still be referred to as yoga in the traditional sense. The same can be said for the practice of Mindfulness. Like Yoga, Mindfulness has gained much popularity in the West over the last decade or so since entering the mainstream. In addition to Mindfulness Meditation, we can now also find Mindful Eating, Mindful Movement, Mindful Conversation, Mindfulness Stress Reduction Programs, Mindfulness Based Therapy, Mindfulness Based Recovery Programs, and yes Mindful Yoga. It seems that Mindfulness, too, has evolved significantly since its traditional roots in Buddhist Spiritual Practice.
Zlata weaves Mindfulness into her work with both her psychotherapy and yoga clients.
Photo by Simon Johnston
We create space for all these feelings and sensations, breathing around them, holding them gently, welcoming them in. We don’t fight with ourselves or abandon ourselves; we meet ourselves where we are at, each and every time. When we do notice that we are fighting with ourselves through criticism or abandoning ourselves by checking out, we are gentle and compassionate with ourselves. We know this is all part of the practice. We simply notice, acknowledge, and find the breath again. It’s still there. It’s always there.
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