Om – Podcasts
I’ve been a devotee of yoga for seven years now. It’s a required pastime for West Coasters, a stamp you need on your passport should you decide to live here. You need to know the difference between Ashtanga and Hatha, know whether you like Bikram’s or not, and have a favorite studio, as baseline requirements.
But there are drawbacks. It can be expensive – $2o a class equals my entire coffee budget for the week; time consuming – getting to my favorite studio is a 30 minute journey, making an hour long class takes a minimum of two hours, and I worry about the strain on the environment since I need to drive there.
Once there, it is a crap shoot whether I have a plum spot by a window, or am wedged into a corner next to smelly guy who clearly does not believe in deodorant, or bathing, making the entire experience unpleasant no matter how fantastic the instructor.
Yet the benefits are huge – unless I happened to be wedged in the corner next to smelly guy, I inevitably float out of class, my whole being feeling relaxed yet stronger then when I entered the room, my mind quieted (I don’t reach a meditative state necessarily, but as close as I can come, definitely a stiller state). My posture has improved immeasurably, now when I am mad or stressed I feel my shoulders creep up next to my ears, so I breathe and bring them down – tiny yoga postures used in everyday life. Opening my hips has drastically reduced my running injuries. Even the mantras take their toll eventually, although that took a long time for me: take the best pose you can for this day, recognizing that each day is different.
Hands down, I would prefer to do a yoga class than receive a massage, so that’s saying something.
But pressed for time and money, as we all are, it’s hard to justify doing as much yoga as I would like. So I’ve taken to unfurling my mat at home and doing free yoga podcasts on iTunes. I get the benefits of a fantastic class in a fraction of the time and at a greatly reduced cost (free is the right price for me).
I’ve found an instructor I love – Elsie Escobar – she is quirky yet incredibly knowledgeable. I tend to gravitate towards people who don’t take themselves too seriously, and Elsie is exactly that. She often has a great life message in the beginning, but if I’m really in a hurry I fast forward to the beginning of the practice. And (sorry Yogi’s, you may not want to read my next sentence) if in a really big rush, I don’t do savasana. There is nothing worse than lying in savasana and making lists of all the things you could be doing if you could just get off this mat.
There are hundreds of podcasts listed, so you can easily do a different one each time, although I certainly have my favorites that I return to on a regular basis.
And best of all: no smelly guy to worry about. Long live yoga podcasts.