You enter the studio to a calm and pleasing scent of lavender in the air. The atmosphere is tranquil and serene. You approach the reception desk and are generously handed bottled water, a fresh yoga mat, blanket, and all props that you’ll potentially need for your yoga practice.
As you get settled onto your mat, the yoga instructor approaches you to discuss what you hope to get from your session, any injuries you might be working through, your preferences for hands-on adjustments and spotting, before the yoga practice begins.
Over the course of the next 90 minutes, you engage in a luxurious experience of a yoga sequence, including feel-good pose adjustments, chanting, oil applied to your pressure points, and a scented eye pillow on your eyes during Savasana. At the close of your practice you feel refreshed, relaxed and pampered.
How is this experience different from your average yoga class?
Depending on your studio, it may not be very different at all. Short of a couple of elements here and there, this experience may be fairly average. So, where is the luxury?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), less than half of U.S. adults get the recommended amount of physical activity advised by the CDC. When researchers examined the reasons why most American adults did not participate, some of the top reasons given were:
- lack of time/availability
- lack of motivation
- lack of access to resources
Engaging in physical activity and activities that support your heart health and wellness in the U.S. is increasingly becoming a luxury. Participating in your yoga practice, each and every time that you make it to the mat, seems to be the new luxury in the U.S.
The benefits of the yoga practice, including meditation and pranayama, are well documented. The American Heart Association outlines that yoga can help with areas ranging from stress reduction to increasing strength and flexibility. Some types of yoga, like vinyasa flow yoga, have been shown to elicit a heightened cardiovascular response from the body, which can supportive of improving hearth health.
Has Yoga Really Become A Luxury?
The answer is no. The practice of yoga requires virtually no equipment, and there is no need to be in any specific place in order to engage in this discipline. Any person can simply roll out their mat (and sometimes you don't even need a mat) in order to access the "luxuries" and benefits of the practice.
And just like when treating yourself to a massage at your favorite spa, generally at the end of your yoga practice, you feel lengthened, massaged and relaxed due to the dualistic qualities of the discipline (strengthening muscles while also stretching.)
If you want to add a bit of “luxury” to your personal yoga practice, throw your scented eye pillow, water bottle and essential oils in your bag, and treat yourself during your practice (if these items are not provided at your place of practice). Then enjoy your luxurious experience and thank yourself—each and every time you make it to the practice.
Shanti.Image credit: Stefanie Joshua