Aesthetic vs. Functional Yoga: Finding Your Path on the Mat

Colynn teaching several people yoga, them all in downward facing dog

Hello, Yoga Friends!

In our colorful world of yoga, there are many paths to explore. Today, let's chat about two distinct approaches: aesthetic yoga and functional yoga. As a middle-aged, queer, alignment-focused yoga teacher, I see beauty in both but also recognize their unique differences. So, grab your mat, and let's dive into what sets these two apart.

Aesthetic Yoga: The Art of the Pose

Aesthetic yoga is like the yoga you often see in magazines or on social media. It's visually stunning, with perfect poses and picturesque backgrounds.

Focus on Form:

Aesthetic yoga emphasizes the external appearance of yoga poses. It’s about achieving that picture-perfect pose that looks like a work of art.

Challenges and Considerations:

While it's beautiful to look at, this approach can sometimes lead us to push our bodies beyond their comfortable limits. It might also lead to comparing ourselves with others, which isn’t what yoga is truly about.

Who Might Enjoy It:

If you’re someone who loves the challenge of mastering complex poses and enjoys the visual aspect of yoga, aesthetic yoga might resonate with you.

Functional Yoga: The Body’s Wisdom

Functional yoga, on the other hand, is all about how your body feels in a pose rather than how it looks.

Alignment and Sensation:

This approach focuses on alignment and the internal experience of yoga. It’s about understanding and respecting your body’s unique structure and needs.

Benefits and Safety:

Functional yoga reduces the risk of injury and is incredibly inclusive. Whether you’re young, old, athletic, or new to exercise, functional yoga adapts to you.

Who Might Enjoy It:

If you're more interested in the health benefits of yoga, how it feels in your body, and personal growth, functional yoga might be your path.

The Middle Ground

The beauty of yoga is that it's not a one-size-fits-all practice. You might find yourself drawn to the artistic expression of aesthetic yoga one day and the body-awareness focus of functional yoga the next.

Listening to Your Body:

The key is to listen to your body. It’s okay to admire the beauty of a perfect pose, but it’s also important to honor your body’s limits and needs.

A Personal Journey:

Yoga is a personal journey, and your practice can be as unique as you are. Whether you lean towards aesthetic, functional, or a mix of both, what matters most is that your practice brings you joy, health, and peace.

Conclusion:

In the end, whether you choose aesthetic yoga, functional yoga, or a little bit of both, remember that the heart of yoga is self-discovery and self-care. It’s a practice that invites us to explore and embrace our unique selves, on and off the mat.

So, dear yogis, I encourage you to explore, experiment, and find the style (or styles) that resonate with you. And most importantly, have fun with your practice!

**

Happy Exploring,**

Your Yoga Guide on this Journey

Exploring the Diverse World of Yoga: A Style for Every Soul

Picture of someone in savasana

Hey Yoga Enthusiasts,

As someone who's spent years breathing, stretching, and living the yoga life, I've come to appreciate the rich tapestry of styles that yoga offers. Each style is like a different color, adding depth and beauty to the yoga world. Today, I want to take you on a tour of these various styles, especially through the lens of someone who loves alignment and anatomy. So, grab your mat, and let's explore together!

1. Hatha Yoga: The Foundation Stone

What It Is: Hatha is often considered the mother of modern yoga. It's a slow-paced practice focusing on basic postures and breathing.

Why It's Great: Perfect for beginners, Hatha is a fantastic way to get acquainted with yoga poses and breathing techniques. It’s also a wonderful way to understand alignment and how your body moves in each pose.

2. Vinyasa Yoga: Flow and Let Go

What It Is: Vinyasa means “to place in a special way.” It's about flowing from one pose to another, synchronized with your breath.

Why It's Great: If you're someone who loves a little rhythm and dynamic movement in your practice, Vinyasa is your go-to. It's also a great way to understand how the body moves in a sequence and how poses can seamlessly transition into one another.

3. Ashtanga Yoga: The Power Player

What It Is: Ashtanga is a rigorous style of yoga that follows a specific sequence of postures and is linked by breath.

Why It's Great: It’s challenging and requires discipline, making it perfect for those who enjoy a more structured practice. As an alignment and anatomy enthusiast, I love how Ashtanga teaches precision in poses.

4. Iyengar Yoga: The Detail Detective

What It Is: Iyengar is all about precision and detail in alignment. Props like yoga blocks and straps are often used to perfect poses.

Why It's Great: If you’re like me and geek out on getting every little alignment detail just right, Iyengar will be your playground. It’s also fantastic for understanding the anatomy behind each pose.

5. Bikram Yoga (Now referred to as Hot 26): The Hotshot

What It Is: Bikram consists of a specific series of 26 postures and two breathing exercises, practiced in a room heated to about 105°F.

Why It's Great: For those who love a good sweat and a consistent routine, Bikram can be quite rewarding. It’s also a good way to explore how heat affects muscle flexibility and alignment.

6. Yin Yoga: The Deep Diver

What It Is: Yin focuses on passive stretches, with poses held for longer periods.

Why It's Great: If you’re looking to dive deep into the connective tissues and joints, Yin is a beautiful practice. It’s also a perfect style to complement the anatomy knowledge as it gives you time to feel and understand each stretch deeply.

7. Restorative Yoga: The Gentle Embrace

What It Is: Restorative yoga is all about relaxation. Poses are held for several minutes, often with the support of props.

Why It's Great: Perfect for winding down and letting go, Restorative yoga is also an excellent opportunity to understand the body’s relaxation response and how alignment can aid in releasing tension.

8. Kundalini Yoga: The Energy Alchemist

What It Is: Kundalini focuses on awakening and channeling the kundalini energy through the body. It involves dynamic movements, breathwork, and chanting.

Why It's Great: For those interested in the energetic and spiritual aspect of yoga, Kundalini can be a transformative experience. It’s also fascinating to see how energy flow interacts with physical alignment and anatomy.

9. Power Yoga: The Strength Builder

What It Is: An offshoot of Ashtanga, Power Yoga is a vigorous, fitness-based approach to Vinyasa-style yoga.

Why It's Great: If building strength and endurance is your goal, Power Yoga is your ally. It’s also a brilliant way to explore how muscle groups work together in dynamic movements and poses.

10. Chair Yoga: The Accessible Friend

What It Is: Chair yoga modifies traditional yoga poses so that they can be done while seated, making yoga accessible to everyone.

Why It's Great: Chair Yoga is wonderful for those with mobility issues or for practicing yoga at the office. It teaches us how alignment can be adapted to different body types and abilities.

Conclusion:

The beauty of yoga lies in its diversity. Each style offers something unique, and yet, they all share the common thread of connecting mind, body, and spirit. As someone who loves the nitty-gritty details of alignment and anatomy, I find every style has its way of revealing more about our incredible bodies.

No matter which style you choose, remember, it's all about your personal journey. Explore, experiment, and most importantly, have fun with it!

Until Next Time,

Keep exploring, keep learning, and stay aligned with your yoga practice.

Colynn

Yoga's Not Just for Show: Why Feeling Beats Looking Good

Hey Friends,

Let's chat about something near and dear to my heart (and my yoga mat): the difference between making yoga look good and making it feel good. You've probably seen those picture-perfect yoga poses on Instagram, right? That's aesthetic yoga for you. But here in our cozy yoga corner, we're all about functional yoga. It's less about impressing others and more about connecting with yourself.

Aesthetic Yoga: Looks Good on Camera, But...

  1. Picture-Perfect Pressure:
    • Aesthetic yoga is like those glossy magazine photos – stunning, but not always real. It's about hitting poses that look great, sure, but they might not feel great. And that's a problem.
    • Ever felt like you're not 'doing yoga right' because you can't twist yourself into a pretzel? Yeah, that's the downside of chasing those picture-perfect poses.
  2. When Your Body Says 'Nope':
    • Pushing your body into a pose it's screaming 'no' to? Ouch. That's when yoga stops being yoga and starts being a competition – and not the fun kind.

Functional Yoga: Where Feeling Good is the New Looking Good

  1. Alignment Over Appearance:
    • Here’s the deal with functional yoga – it’s all about how you feel in a pose, not how you look. It's about listening to your body, finding your alignment, and saying, “Hey, body, you’re the boss.”
    • And guess what? It's for every body. Tall, short, big, small – if you've got a body, you're good to go.
  2. No Injuries, Just Bliss:
    • By focusing on how poses feel, we're taking care of our bodies, reducing injury risks, and actually enjoying our practice. It's like giving your body a high-five.

Real Talk from Your Yoga Buddy:

  1. Been There, Felt That:
    • Ever been in a class, trying a pose, and it just feels plain wrong? But everyone else is doing it, so you grit your teeth and bear it? Been there, done that. Not fun.
    • In our world, if a pose feels off, we change it. We adapt. Because yoga is about feeling good, not just looking good.
  2. Feeling It, Not Forcing It:
    • In our classes, it’s all about tuning in to what your body’s saying. We make poses work for us, not the other way around. It’s pretty liberating, actually.

Wrapping Up: So, there you have it. Yoga doesn’t have to be a fashion show. It's about feeling grounded, connected, and, honestly, just not giving a hoot about what others think. It's your practice, your rules.

Come Feel Good with Us: If you’re into feeling great and taking care of your body (while having a bit of fun), drop by for a class. Let’s focus on what feels right, together.

Stay Bendy (Or Not), Your Yoga Pal

Rolling Out the Welcome Mat: Yoga for Every Body

Hey There, Yoga Family,

Let's chat about something that's been on my mind a lot lately. You know, yoga is supposed to be about balance, acceptance, and peace. But, let's be real – sometimes, it feels like you've got to be a thin, flexible, young, and typically white gal to fit in. I'm here to shake that up a bit.

Why Yoga Needs a Reality Check

You've seen it, right? Those picture-perfect yoga studios with their Instagram-worthy poses. It's like yoga turned into a competition for who can be the most zen while rocking Lululemon. Here's the thing – I'm a queer, bigger-bodied person, and I've been in those rooms where I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb. Not cool.

Talking the Talk, But Not Walking the Walk

Ever been to a class where the instructor's words felt more like a script for a fitness model shoot than a real-life yoga session? Yeah, me too. Sometimes it feels like they're teaching from a place of ego rather than empathy. I've heard instructions and comments that made me think, "Who are you actually talking to?" Because it sure wasn't me or half of the folks in the room.

Flipping the Script on Yoga Spaces

So, here's my approach – let's make yoga chill again. In my classes and retreats, everyone's welcome. I mean it. Queer, straight, big, small, young, old, injured, Olympian – you get the picture. Yoga is about connecting with yourself, and how can you do that if you don't feel welcome in the first place?

Keeping It Real

In my world, yoga is less about hitting that perfect pose and more about feeling good in your skin. I use language that's for everyone, offer modifications for every body type, and keep things light. A little humor goes a long way, especially when you're trying to twist your body like a pretzel (which, by the way, is totally optional).

The Proof Is in the Pudding

I've seen what happens when you open the doors wide. People come in, they relax, they smile, and they connect – not just with yoga but with each other. That's the magic. That's the yoga I fell in love with, and that's what I'm here to share.

Join the Fam

If you're tired of feeling like you don't belong in the yoga world, I've got you. Come to my class, hit up one of my retreats, or just drop me a message. Let's make yoga what it was always meant to be – a place for every one of us.

Stay Bendy (Or Not),

Colynn