How to Create a Lasting Yoga Practice, According to RI Instructors

Two instructors from All That Matters in Wakefield share the benefits of practicing yoga and why they got into the practice.
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Two big questions surround yoga and meditation. The first: Where do I start? The second: Why should I start? Yoga instructors Tara Beaulieu and Mel Wagimont are practicing yogis at All That Matters yoga studio in Wakefield. We talked with them about the benefits of practicing yoga, why people should start the intricate exercise and a little bit about their own stories.

Two big questions surround yoga and meditation. The first: Where do I start? The second: Why should I start? Yoga instructors Tara Beaulieu and Mel Wagimont are practicing yogis at All That Matters yoga studio in Wakefield. We talked with them about the benefits of practicing yoga, why people should start the intricate exercise and a little bit about their own stories.

Beaulieu and Wagimont both began their yoga journeys by watching DVDs at home, where they quickly realized how much they loved it and decided to join All That Matters.

“I started recognizing that when I was doing yoga, there was something different. My body still felt like I was moving and exercising, but there was a calm that came over me at the end of class,” says Beaulieu.

“Every joy, every death, every crisis, it has sustained me,” added Wagimont. “It’s the only thing that truly makes me feel calm and grounded.”

People have different reasons for getting into yoga. Maybe you’re like Beaulieu and wanted to add something new to your fitness routine. Maybe you relate a little more to Wagimont, who began her yoga practice after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Whatever your situation may be, there are many physical and mental benefits to the practice and countless styles to fit your needs.

“There are the most gentle and easeful practices of stretch and breathe, where you stretch and you take deep breaths and roll around on the floor,” says Beaulieu. “There’s restorative, which as it sounds, is restoring the body, where you use blankets and cushions to get into a shape and be there comfortably and relax into your body. There’s also heated power yoga, where you’re moving and you’re sweating.”

Yoga also helps your functional movement and gives you better balance. It gets your body in good habits, like being able to stand up tall and create positive patterns.

On top of all the physical benefits yoga provides, there are a lot of mental benefits as well. One benefit is simply being able to focus on one thing. As twenty-first century adults, we are always multitasking.

But during a yoga session, “you are having this active dialogue with yourself and noticing your mind can’t also at the same time be going, ‘I’ve got that deadline,’ ‘I’ve got to have that conversation.’ You can’t have all that chatter happening when you’re busy inhaling and exhaling. The practice of it, especially when you’re in a community and you’ve got a teacher guiding you, is a really safe place to just let your mind take a backseat,” says Beaulieu. Some other mental benefits of doing yoga are increased self-awareness and taking time out for you to just focus on moving and breathing.

As far as how often yoga should be done, Beaulieu and Wagimont both say to make sure you have an attainable goal and that it works for you. Try different teachers, different styles and figure out what works best for your needs. Beaulieu recalls this helpful advice: Take your goal, cut it in half and start there.

“Say you show up and you’ve never been here before,” says Wagimont. “Practicing yoga one day a week is transformational, and it’s one day a week doing something you hadn’t done before. It’s got to work for you.”

The most important step on your yoga journey involves a lot of experimentation, they say.

“What’s going to be the easiest way for you to put your foot in the door? If it’s a video, or it’s an Audible recording, or if it’s getting a friend to go with you to a class because you’re somebody who needs to make some sort of commitment, do it,” says Beaulieu.

It also can be helpful to reach out to yoga instructors with questions. Everyone has to start somewhere, and you may need a little guidance on what to try. “If the lid isn’t right for your pot, it’s not going to work,” says Wagimont.

Even if it’s only for five minutes every day, Wagimont and Beaulieu say yoga can provide calm and relaxation when we are feeling stressed. Whether you’re an experienced yogi, or have neve stepped onto a yoga mat before, the practice can provide you with many benefits that are both physical and mental.

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