Is yoga a cult? Why are we talking about transcendence when I came here to stretch? And what are these Sanskrit terms I keep hearing?
These were some thoughts and concerns I had as a brand-new yoga student, and although I have come to cherish the spiritual and philosophical aspects of yoga, I understand that many new students feel uncomfortable with those aspects of it or simply aren't interested.
Many yoga teachers feel that when we remove these elements from our classes, we aren't giving students a genuine experience of what yoga is—and I can't say that I disagree. But if students are turned off by their first class and they never come back, that doesn't ultimately help more people experience yoga.
I believe it's important to get more students in the door—to get them comfortable with yoga poses, to have them start experiencing the benefits in the form of improved flexibility, diminished pain, a calmer mind. Once they're hooked, they will naturally become interested in the rich tradition of yoga and curious to learn more about the system these powerful poses are part of.
This is why I'm such a fan of the new 3 Week Yoga Retreat program that's part of Beachbody on Demand. It strips away everything but the basic instructions for the poses—but keeps enough detail that the student understands what to do and can feel confident of avoiding injury. Modifications are offered if a the default way of performing the pose is not possible. A very small amount of Sanskrit is used—just enough that the student wouldn't be totally confused if attending a class at a studio where the pose names are given in Sanskrit.
The goal of 3 Week Yoga Retreat is to serve as that bridge to an in-person class. For students who feel so nervous about attending their first yoga class that they simply avoid it, this program is intended as a way to get their feet wet.
Most yoga teachers are thoughtful and considerate of the needs of new students, and will go out of their way to help a new student feel comfortable in class, but nevertheless, I recognize that fear of the unknown keeps many prospective students away. 3 Week Yoga Retreat was made as a solution to that very problem.
In addition, as a yoga instructor I observed that students were reluctant to practice in between their weekly classes. They wanted to, but weren't sure how to structure it: which poses should they do, and in which order? 3 Week Yoga Retreat can help create a foundation for a home practice, allowing students to consolidate what they've learned in class and make faster progress than if they only practice once a week in class.
I do have one caveat about the program: I believe it moves too quickly for a true beginner. The third week of the program incorporates intermediate (or even advanced) poses. I recommend that students who are brand-new to yoga stick with the first week and repeat it several times, then move on to the second week and repeat that several times. I wouldn't recommend moving on to week three until you have several months of regular practice under your belt.
Program length: 21 days
Workout length: 30 minutes, although the program includes shorter sessions that are only 10 minutes that can be used when you don't a half hour all at once.
What equipment is needed? A yoga mat is recommended. A strap, blocks, or folded blankets may come in handy for some of the poses (the videos explain how to modify using these items).
How is it structured? You'll have one main instructor for each week of the program—Faith for week 1, Elise for week 2, and Ted for week 3. Each week has the same themes: one session each focusing on Core, Stretch, Balance, Flow, a shorter 20-minute "Flow on the Go" session, Relax, and three 10-minute "Take 10" sessions for morning, evening, and abs. The program is meant to be done seven days a week, although you can move the sessions around and save the shorter ones for your busier days.
What kinds of moves are involved? There are plenty of long holds of stretches, but this program also contains significant core, strength, and balance work. It's a well-rounded sampling of all the various benefits of yoga, which go far beyond just making you more flexible.
Are modifications shown? Yes. For those less flexible, the instructors show and explain how to use props (the blocks, strap, and blankets mentioned above) so you can still experience the effects of the poses. In addition, if there's anything that isn't working for you or isn't making sense to you, I am available to you as your coach, to help you understand the poses and to suggest different modifications if necessary.
Interested in trying this program? Learn more in my video review or email me at LivingVibrantlyEG@gmail.com to find out when my next challenge group starts! I can also guide you to my recommended sources for the equipment mentioned here, or get you set up with a different workout program if this one isn't up your alley. I'm only an email away... Let's chat!