arm balances inversions

Understanding Yoga as a Practice

Yoga is a practice.

The history extends back 5,000 years to ancient Indian philosophy! I joined Mountainside as a member in 2014 and I was curious to try new group fitness classes that I hadn’t tried before. Classes like Power, Flow, or Yin became a part of my daily schedule. Then one day in class I had an “ah-ha!” moment… The yoga instructor began to adjust my posture in warrior one, moving my hips forward. She adjusted my heel to heel alignment, parallel from left foot to the right foot. Everything was new and RAW. I was overwhelmed and I squealed, “I’VE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE!” The understanding instructor gently adjusted my stance and said that’s okay, “Yoga is a practice”. Her next cue to the class was, “breathe in and breathe out” That is when it sank in. Yoga. Is. A. Practice.

I was in awe of the new Sanskrit words, a foreign language I knew nothing about, and moving my body into shapes I had never felt before. My bubble in that moment had burst, but afterward I gained a wonderful awareness and insight into my own yoga journey: each time I would walk into a class and move onto my mat I would get to practice. Every yoga class was an opportunity to incorporate new yoga poses into my own practice. I would learn to consciously breathe. I would learn graceful terminology that sounded like a love language. I would continue to build my personal mind/body strength and deepen my connection to my yoga practice.

I was anxious to absorb as much knowledge as possible and would take hours and hours of yoga classes with incredibly inspiring and talented instructors who effortlessly shared their knowledge of yoga. My love for fitness and yoga became infinite and boundless. I quickly became interested in Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) when it came to my attention that Mountainside Fitness would be offering a YTT! After 200 hours, I became a certified Yoga Instructor. 

I have created a SHORT list of wonderful benefits that I have picked up in my practice that I’m delighted to share with you as a start to understanding the practice of yoga:

  1. Only 1/8 of the practice of yoga includes the Physical Practice

    There are a total of eight philosophical ideas related to yoga that are to be practiced irrespective of time, location, and circumstance. The physical practice of yoga is referred to in Sanskrit as “Asana”. A few benefits of practicing different yoga Asana’s are increasing muscular strength, working on flexibility, and finding a conscious connection of the mind and body.

  2. Pranayama is the art of conscious breathing

    Oxygen is energy for all of our vital organs. By consciously choosing to breathe you invite several benefits into your life. Breathing can reduce high blood pressure, improve sleep quality, relieve stress, and teaches us that if we can be in control of our own breath, we are ultimately in charge of our own lives!  Breathing allows us to experience mindfulness in a new way and can help improve focus, self-awareness, and can calm the nervous system.

  3. Dhyana is the sanskirt word for Meditation

    Meditation are our thoughts. For example if I am focusing on the 12,000,000 events/tasks I will perform throughout my day, I am essentially meditating on that. Yoga allows us to bring meditation into our practice by setting an intention. As you set an intention or chose a meaningful word to meditate on your brain creates new neural pathways based on your set intention. In yoga you learn how to focus your energy on what you choose to meditate on. Meditating helps reduce stress, control anxiety, lengthens attention span, may reduce age- related memory loss, and can help change the quality of your life.

The benefits of tapping into your own personal yoga practice are endless. In my case it has become an endless love story and journey. I highly encourage you to hop into any yoga class at Mountainside and choose to simply show up and start. Remember that with any journey or choice you make in life there is a learning curve and lots of room for opportunity to learn, yoga is no exception. When members ask me which is the “easiest” yoga class to try, I get a twinkle in my eye as I think back to the time when I was a new yogini. With stars in my eyes I say “yoga is a practice”.


Dani Byrd

Dani Byrd fell in love with Group Fitness when she was a new member in 2014. She teaches a number of formats and is certified through PiYo Live!, 200 HR YTT, Barre ABOVE, Beatboss, Zumba B1, H.E.A.T. (In-house training), Muscle, HIIT, Tabata (In-house training). Dani’s passion is to connect with others on their fitness journey! Click here to view Dani’s teaching schedule.