Monday, March 14, 2011

Yoga for Big People

ECHOYoga's Yoga for Big People/Restorative Yoga

Imagine my happiness upon hearing about this class from my best friend Grace. Finally, an [re-]introduction to yoga that instantly shatters any form of intimidation. In my mind, I belong here!

After the long wait, I found the time and budget to attend this class 3 weeks ago. Newbies can borrow any of their yoga mats, blocks and other aids but it is highly recommended to bring your own towel especially if you sweat profusely. That particular Monday, neither Vicky Ortega nor Jeannie Javelosa were unable to conduct the class. Paulo, who holds vinyasa flow classes every Saturday mornings, took over.

Beginner's luck or not, I took great satisfaction how the 1.5 hours of stretching and deep breathing resulted to the relaxed aura I had long sought for. [Too bad I had no photos to prove it.] Unlike the other attendees who had officially ended their work day, I felt every sinew was rejuvenated that I can tolerate any form of corporate slavery in my graveyard shift. And you must know that I love complaining about work-related stress.

The following Monday, I had a scheduled training in our Eastwood office. I opted to go for Muay Thai training in Elorde Boxing Gym to confuse my body with a sudden anaerobic treat. As I have detailed here, I landed in a hospital to re-stage a knee injury. Until now, my subconscious asks what would have happened if I skipped workout that day and patiently waited for the next opportunity to do restorative yoga. Your guess is as good as mine. Ommmm...


Photo shamelessly lifted from ECHOYoga's official website. Photo by Silvina Gall.

To help us understand how yoga will make our bodies -and lives- improve, I threw in some questions for Vicky Ortega to answer. Here's how it went.

Lornadahl: I would like to congratulate you for coming up with yoga classes for big people. I really enjoyed my first time and I'd be back for more soon. Why did ECHOYoga come up with such? How is it different from other beginner's class?
Vicky Ortega: The inspiration behind yoga for big people was my own experience in still being able to do yoga even when my weight was 178 lbs. I remember Jeannie Javelosa saying that I was probably the only teacher who, because I am also plus sized, would have the best chance of making yoga for big people relevant. I understand the issues of big people from a personal perspective.

It is similar to a beginner's class in terms of pace. However, there is a focus on understanding the physical needs of big people. The asanas are adjusted and props, such as blocks, bolsters and rolled mats, are used as support to help the students do the asana safely.

Lornadahl: Do big people tend to have a harder time to do the asanas?
Vicky Ortega: There are certain physical realities that big people have to contend with, such as tummies and bigger thighs. And, of course, weight. So the asanas are adjusted to address those needs. But the benefits of the asanas remain the same.

Lornadahl: I've had a history of kneecap dislocation and meniscus tear. Will yoga eventually help me heal and make my knee stronger? What kind of yoga would you recommend for me?
Vicky Ortega: Yes, yoga is a very healing practice. Through consistent practice, it can help your body open up and strengthen your muscles. I have a 72 year old student who needs knee replacement surgery. After 10 one-on-one lessons of yoga, she walks better and is more confident that her body can still stretch, stand and bend even though her knees remain weak. Depending on the condition of your knees, I would recommend gentle flow yoga for you. It is slower and the teacher can adjust the asanas for you.

Lornadahl: How will students benefit from yoga?
Vicky Ortega: Yoga is the science of breathing. Many of us don't realize how constricted our breathing is till we begin to breathe in yoga class. Just learning how to breathe fully can release a lot of stress and tightness in our body. Doing the asanas will help open our body. It is always a gift to realize that our body can do more than we expect it to. Simply being able to reach the floor with our hands gives us a sense of liberation. That I can still stand on my head, even with my size and weight, gives me a sense of liberation. I am not bound by the limitations of size and weight.

Yoga is also very healing. About three years ago I suffered from trigeminal neuralfia, a very painful nerve condition that made speaking, eating and even smile extremely painful. My medicines could not completely manage the pain so I turned to yoga as a complementary therapy. Today, I teach again and my pain is managed very well. Yoga has also helped me manage the amount of medicines I take.

Lornadahl: Wow, that's impressive! Will yoga work for weight loss? How is it different from other strenuous workout?
Vicky Ortega: Yoga can work for weight loss, if done consistently---at least 5 times a week. The practice of yoga asanas leads to certain sense of calmness which helps the mind quiet down and allows one to meditate. Yoga is a practice that unites mind and body. After a practice session, one tends to feel more energetic and also more peaceful. This is what makes it different from the primarily physical workouts.

***End of Interview***

1 comment:

  1. yoga for fat people- awesome! they need to put out a DVD :P

    I still think some of your posts focus on weight loss too much. You shouldn't care about your weight and shouldn't actively try to lose weight.. you should simply try to be healthy.