It took me a long time to realize the benefits of yoga. I started my practice off and on about 10 years ago. When I am consistent, I am at my best physically and mentally.
So is yoga for you? I talked with yogi Betinna Lee about the benefits of practicing and how it has changed her life. Bettina has certifications and experience as a Mayo Clinic Wellness Coach, Yoga Instructor, Aqua Instructor, and Personal Trainer. Bettina currently serves as the Wellness Coordinator for a local municipality.
VSC: How long have you been practicing yoga?
BL: I first began practicing in 2002 at a major fitness gym in NYC.
VSC: How did you start doing yoga?
BL: I started because I was a former dancer and athlete. I figured that I had the flexibility and strength, so it might be something fun to try. I actually got injured due to my own ego and comparing my ability with others. However, I was drawn to a yogic lifestyle and a few years later went back to study further; under a different teacher of course.
VSC: Do you have to be athletic to begin practicing yoga?
BL: Not at all. That is a big misconception. Many people think you have to be flexible or already practice yoga, but you don’t. Everyone has a beginning; just start.
VSC: There are many different styles of yoga, how should a beginner decided which one to start with?
BL: I recommend starting with a gentle or beginner practice. If going to a studio, read the class descriptions and speak with the teachers to get an understanding of what to expect from the class. If following a video or online classes, go with something a bit easier than what you anticipate you can do. It is better to go easier and build up from there. Create a foundation first.
VSC: What are the benefits of yoga?
BL: The benefit of yoga are vast! Not only does it improve your breathing, build flexibility, build strength and improve your mind body connection, it has been scientifically proved that yoga helps to reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
Yoga is more than asana (physical practice).
VSC: How has yoga changed you physically and mentally?
BL: Yoga is the calm to my storm. It reminds me to find my center and to focus on the present. I have Asthma so Yoga has helped me with breath control. It has also increased my flexibility, allowed me to build strength (especially during my pregnancy) helped me to gain a better understanding of myself through self discovery and improved my connection to the Divine.
VS: Should beginners try online yoga programs?
BL: Yes. Online classes can be a passive way for beginners to familiarize themselves with the asana (physical portion of yoga). They can also educate themselves on the other seven other aspects of yoga.
VSC: Can certain poses help with stress?
BL: All poses can help with stress whether it is finding the calm while holding a deep Warrior 2 for 10 breaths or melting into a Child’s Pose.
VSC: What advice would you give to any thinking about beginning yoga?
BL: Try, try and try again. I always tell students that I may not be your teacher so don’t let that stop you. If you don’t like your first yoga class or teacher try another. That particular person/studio/style may not be for you. It is perfectly fine to shop around until you find a match.
You can learn more about Bettina on her website BleevablePrana.com and you can follow her on IG @BLeeisfine