Several years ago, my wife and I decided to give up the gym and commit fully to our yoga practice. Having worked with some really talented instructors and friends over the past number of years, choosing a studio that offered the array of practices and schedule we wanted seemed daunting. But then Pure Yoga opened on the Upper West Side, and we became huge fans. Their tagline is “many practices, one intention,” and for us they really delivered on that promise.
We regularly took classes with Marco Rojas and the experience was unique. There wasn’t any music, just the cadence of Marco’s voice and his persistence at getting us to “feel the now” and “experience the present.” It was demanding—mentally, physically and emotionally. The biggest takeaway for me was that we each have unlimited potential. We often think we’ll “break” if we push ourselves to that next step, but it’s only when we push that edge that the reward is most gratifying.
Marco talks about the yoga mat as a training ground for life. What we do “on the mat” reflects what we will do “off the mat.” If we give up on the mat, then we may be inclined to give up in life. But if we push ourselves, focus ourselves and concentrate on the present, there isn’t any challenge that is insurmountable.
Yoga is as much mental and emotional training as it is a practice to improve physical flexibility and strength. Our mind wants to take us to the past or draw us into the future, but we have to control it to stay present and maintain balance. We can learn from the past and plan for the future, but both are imaginary. If we forget that the present is REAL then we risk losing out on really experiencing life. The body provides us with a lot of information and we owe it to ourselves to strengthen our physical literacy.
I often think about the lessons my students could learn from a yoga practice that demands of them mentally, physically and emotionally. For students who experience attentional difficulties or anxiety, yoga provides an opportunity to become more grounded and calm. For students who are impatient and impulsive, yoga provides an opportunity to become more patient and controlled. Yoga also benefits the body’s immune system and helps the brain to work more efficiently. A skilled teacher can help students of all ages to have fun, experience the poses and develop a meaningful practice.By Brad Hoffman, M.S.Ed.
Board Certified Educational Planner and Learning Specialist
My Learning Springboard, Inc.