Blog post by Mary Moscarello Gutierrez

Mary trying a variation of Warror I

“You are one Yoga class away from a good mood…”

This is a phrase I’ve shared and seen on social media too many times to count. It is simple and funny and sends the message that taking a yoga class will improve your mood. As if it were that easy. It is rare for me to feel worse after yoga than when I went in – but the truth is, I’ve always done the work asked of me in each and every yoga class I’ve taken. If we dig deeper into this casual implication that the mere act of going to a yoga class does the trick, it ignores the part that the yogi plays in the class.

Warrior II

Let me backtrack a little bit.

This morning I noticed a tube of lotion that we keep on our bathroom vanity. It is called “Stress Relief” lotion. It is infused with eucalyptus and spearmint – purportedly to provide aromatherapy via the essential oils in the lotion to help you relax. Let’s be real though, if stress relief came in a tube, there’d be no stress in the world any more.

Look closely at the label. It says “Relax and Think Clearly” – those are tasks, meaning the person applying the lotion has a role to play – just like the yogi in the class does – in order for the stress to be relieved or the mood to be made good. It doesn’t just happen by smearing product onto your skin. That act is superficial and no one with good common sense would believe it, right?

Simply being in a yoga class will not affect your mood, unless you go beyond the superficial. Each yogi (teacher included) enters the room with a choice to move beyond the physical act of sitting in a room of people on mats with your legs crossed, breathing in synchronicity or moving into a yoga pose (an asana).

So how do you fully commit to making the class work for you, if – let’s say – your goal is to improve your mood? What is your task? (or tasks) If I asked 100 yogis this question, I’d get 100 different responses. There is no one correct answer. However there is this advice from me.

Surrender to the breath. Move with your breath. Stay connected to your breath no matter what happens in the class. Be open to what may or may not happen.

The good mood may come, it may not, but it is rare for you to feel worse after a yoga class. Trust me.

You’ll feel a difference when class is over.