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!

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Happy Exploring,**

Your Yoga Guide on this Journey

Meditation: Letting It Happen, One Breath at a Time

Hey Lovely People,

Today, let's chat about something near and dear to my heart: meditation. I often hear folks say, "I'm doing meditation," but here's a little secret – meditation isn't really something you 'do'. It's more like something that 'happens' to you, like falling asleep. You set the stage, get comfy, and let it happen. As a middle-aged, queer yoga teacher, I've seen so many people, from all walks of life, discover the magic of just letting meditation happen. And guess what? You can too!

Meditation: More Than Just Sitting Still

First off, let’s bust a myth: meditation isn't just sitting in silence with your legs crossed and trying to empty your mind. It's about being present, noticing your thoughts (they're totally normal, by the way), and then bringing your attention back to something like your breath or a sound.

The cool thing about meditation is that it’s like giving your brain a little vacation. All day, our minds are like busy bees, buzzing from one thought to another. Meditation is the time when we tell our busy bees to take a break and just chill.

Benefits: Why Meditation is Your Friend

  1. Stress? Bye-Bye!
    • Meditation is amazing at helping to lower stress. It’s like telling your body, “Hey, it’s okay to relax now.”
  2. Hello, Good Sleep!
    • Having trouble sleeping? Meditation can be like a gentle lullaby for your mind, helping you drift off to dreamland more easily.
  3. Focus Like a Laser Beam
    • Regular meditation can help you focus better in your day-to-day life. It’s like training your brain to stay on one channel instead of flipping through a hundred!
  4. Emotional Rollercoaster? Not Anymore!
    • Meditation can help smooth out those emotional ups and downs. It’s like having an inner cushion that softens life’s bumpy rides.

“But I’m Bad at Meditation!” – Nope, You’re Not!

I hear this a lot: “I tried meditating, but I’m just bad at it.” Here’s a little truth bomb – there’s no such thing as being bad at meditation. If your mind wanders (which it will, trust me), that's not failing. That’s just your brain doing brain stuff. The magic is in noticing that and bringing your focus back. It’s like a bicep curl for your brain.

Consistency is Key: Keep Showing Up

Meditation is a practice, and like anything else, it gets more familiar the more you do it. It's not about having a perfect, thought-free session every time. It’s about showing up, again and again, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Think of it like watering a plant. A little bit every day goes a long way.

Creating Your Meditation Space

Find a comfy spot where you can sit or lie down without too many distractions. You don’t need anything fancy – a chair, cushion, or even your bed works. Set a timer for however long you want to meditate. Even five minutes is a great start!

Then, just focus on your breath, a word, or a sound. When your mind wanders (and it will – that’s okay!), gently bring your attention back. That's it! You're meditating!

Remember: It’s a Journey

Meditation is a journey, not a destination. It’s about the experience, not the outcome. Each time you meditate, you’re taking a step towards a calmer, more centered you. And the best part? Everyone can meditate – it's totally inclusive.

Join Our Meditation Circle

If you’re curious about meditation or looking for some friendly guidance, come join one of our meditation sessions. We’re all about creating a kind, caring, and chill space where everyone can explore meditation at their own pace. I have lots of sessions on YouTube or try an immersive experience with Frik-Shuhn's 50 hour Meditation & Pranayama Training.

Until Next Time, Keep breathing and smiling, and remember, meditation is about letting it happen, one breath at a time.

Your Chill Meditation Guide, 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

5 Mudras for Manifestation

Hello January. Hello the usual stuff - resolutions, intentions and creation. Whatever works for you is great. The question is, is it working, or are you doing the same thing over an over again without much of a change? With manifestation, what is important is to recognize that you are doing it right now. Your whole life, everything that you have going on right now, you created it. Your present circumstances are a result of your past thinking. So what you are thinking now is essentially creating what is to come. If you aren't already, it is supportive to be aware of what you are thinking; to be monitoring your thoughts 24/7. To be clear and consistent is a huge part of creating and mudras can help.

Gyan Mudra

I once heard that prayer is asking for what you want and meditation is leaving space to receive those answers. In manifestation, there are several steps to attaining and creating all that you desire. The first is setting your goal, or asking for what you want. The second is taking action, and in taking action, the importance can be placed on taking the right action. It is here that we can use Gyan Mudra to determine the right actions to take.

There are many variations of this mudra, the most common is back of the hand on the knees with the index finger and thumb touching and other three fingers opening outwards. This mudra translates to "mudra of wisdom" and when used in meditation is known to connect you to your own inner guidance. It is that guidance that will support you in choosing which actions to take that will get you to your goal.

The Practice: Bring yourself to a nice comfortable seat and rest the back of your hands on your knees. Bring your index fingers and thumbs to touch and extend the last three fingers out. Start to focus on your breath. Nice long, slow, deep breaths in and out. Now bring your goal to mind and allow the thoughts to melt away. Keep focusing on your goal and notice what comes up.

Padma Mudra

Padma translates to lotus, therefore this mudra is the mudra of the lotus flower. The lotus is a powerful symbol in Indian culture and represents a few different key concepts important to self-realization. Firstly, the concept of this beautiful flower that can only grow in mud. The more mud, the deeper and stronger the roots, and the bigger the flower. It is the mud and the muck that is the foundation and cause for the growth of the flower. The second concept is related to the fact that even though the flower grows through the water, it never gets wet. Therefore, the flower is part of the environment, yet not completely affected by it.

This mudra supports us in realizing our potential and represents rebirth, spirituality and purity. Like the lotus, we can grow out of ugly conditions and emerge a beautiful spirit. This mudra calms the mind and manifests strength and resilience.

The Practice: This mudra can be completed sitting, standing and in a majority of yoga postures. Start by focusing on the breath, nice long, slow, deep breaths and bring your goal to mind. Bring the base of your palms to touch and spread your fingers wide. Touch your thumbs and pinkies leaving space between your palms and the other fingers of your hands. Tune into your strength and focus on the actions you are going to take to create your goal.

Dhyana Mudra

Formed by the words Dhi which translates to thinking and perceiving and yana which is the practice of moving, and thereby can be thought of as the action of properly thinking. Dhyana is also one of the eight limbs of yoga and is known as meditation. Dhyana mudra's effects have a calm and concentrated effect on the brain and nervous system, which improves the quality of the mind to analyze and heal.

This mudra is a symbolic gesture of the state of mind in meditation that is depicted by the shape of a triangle made using hands and fingers and it represents the three jewels of Buddhism. Buddha, dharma (good law) and sangha (community). The right hand signifies wisdom, knowledge and awareness, while the left hand represents the illusion and fantasy of this world. When the right hand is placed over the left hand, it represents the dominance of knowledge and awareness over the illusions created by the world.

The Practice: This mudra can be practiced both seated and standing. Start by focusing on breathing and bring your goal to mind. Bring your hands to rest in your lap with your right hand resting inside the left hand. Touch the tips of the thumbs together and hold for 10 minutes.

Anjali Mudra

In the West, most people experience this mudra as a posture of prayer, which carries a personal connection to each person, whether positive or negative. Anjali translates to offering and is used as a posture of composure, of returning to one's heart and initiating or completing an action. Bringing the hands together at your centre connects the left and right hemispheres of your brain.

This mudra honours our practice and allows our full selves to our journey. When we find equilibrium and decide which actions to initiate and complete, this mudra practiced repeatedly supports with our discipline and clarity in moving forward towards our goals.

The Practice: This mudra can be practiced in most postures. Breathe and bring both of your palms together at the centre of your chest as if to gather all of your resources into your heart. Repeat this action a few times connecting to the balancing action of uniting your left and right side, masculine and feminine, logic and intuition and strength and tenderness into wholeness. Settle into stillness, bring your goal to mind and focus on your breath. Notice what comes to mind.

Kali Mudra

The Abhaya mudra (a mudra that represents a diety)connects to the fierce goddess Kali that represents death, destruction, transformation and purity. If you are looking to make changes, release unnecessary baggage, overcome difficulties or even find some fierce energy in the day.

The hand positioning is very direct, with the fingers tightly linked and index fingers point directly with the left thumb crossed over the right thumb to represent feminine energy dominating over the masculine energy.

The Practice: Sit or stand and bring your arms out in front of you. Interlock all of the fingers together leaving the index fingers pointing forward and your left thumb crossed over your right. Bring the focus to your breath and bring to mind your goal. The mudra represents this one-pointed focus to strengthen your discipline.

Set aside some time for you and be clear about what it is you want to create. Consistency is key.