“I wish I didn’t practice yoga today, said no one, ever.” It’s a quote Amanda Riches—a producer at Namaste TV—came across once. “I think there’s universal agreement on the benefits of yoga for your mind, your body and your relationships with other people,” she continues.
While planning a wedding doesn’t have to be stressful, it seems, for many, it’s the inevitable outcome that accompanies one of the most exhilarating times of their life. Yoga is one method that can be applied to help cope with the added pressures that accompany planning a wedding.
Jordan Maxey, owner and principle planner at Smitten Events, tells Real Weddings about the manifestations and sources of stress: “Family stress is number one.” Often with large weddings, there’s a layer of concern about how the guests will interact, especially those who have never met—or have and aren’t on the best terms. Couples feel they have to be everything for everyone throughout the entire day. They need to find mechanisms for letting go of that stress.
Another interpretation, says Devon Dunn, also owner and principle planner at Smitten Events, is that couples aren’t necessarily feeling stressed. “But there’s anticipation and build up. And that’s when the nerves kick in.” Both Dunn and Maxey agree that couples should be encouraged to work off that extra steam by doing something for themselves. “That could be going for a run, or having a big group yoga session before hair and makeup,” says Dunn. It’s important to set aside time to unwind and be reflective.
For newcomers to yoga, getting into a new fitness program can be daunting. So we’re here to break it down for you. If you know how your stress manifests, you’ll be able to choose a type of yoga—or mix of classes—that works for you. As you approach your wedding day, you’ll be ready to tackle anything.
The categories below simplify the types of yoga and are by no means, an exhaustive classification. That said, understanding the styles and how they relate to your Ayurvedic body type can help you understand which type of yoga is most beneficial to you. Since stress manifests differently for people, Ayurvedic theory—a sister science to yoga rooted in ancient India—is a useful tool in helping you to understand your stress and how to lessen it.
Hatha (Gentle) Yoga
In this style of yoga, the poses tend to be simple and accessible to beginners. The focus is on using the poses as a way to relax and meditate. Instructors frequently encourage their students to be in the present moment. The benefits of gentle yoga are an increase in flexibility and strength. “Anyone in the modern world could probably use some flexibility training, especially in the hamstrings and hips, and neck and shoulders,” Riches tells Real Weddings. Even those with physically active jobs like serving or working in construction can benefit from more flexibility. “Any job you have, you’re going to encounter repetitive stress issues from repeating the same actions over and over again.”
The type of relaxation and meditation attained through gentle yoga can help make you a more mindful person, more aware of your internal thoughts and how you construct narratives about yourself and other people in your life. Riches says this is particularly important for couples. “The narratives we have about ourselves and our partners can be damaging to the relationship,” she tells Real Weddings. On the mat, you’ll have time to reflect on those inner dialogues. Instructors also encourage students to take that awareness off the mat. You’ll be able to discern whether something—like your partner not helping out around the house—is just a narrative you’ve created or whether it’s actually happening.
If your stress manifests as an inability to focus or in having a difficult time coping with the millions of ideas in your head, you may be a Vata dosha. This constitution will benefit from hatha, to promote a feeling of being grounded and calm. “You can take that off the mat, into wedding planning, into the wedding day and then into your life,” says Riches.
Power, Vinyasa, Flow and Ashtanga Yoga
This yoga grouping is focused on dynamic movement and strong physical practice. You’re going to sweat (hot yoga is also in this category). The philosophy behind these types of yoga is that by challenging yourself physically, your mind is fully focused on your body. “The meditative state is accessed through physical challenge,” explains Riches. This type of yoga often resonates with those who find jogging beneficial for stress-relief. By having a really powerful yoga practice, individuals can get over the noise of their busy lives and feel energized. “Once you’ve taken the time to not think about everything, when you step off the mat you’re energized and ready to tackle everything—like planning a wedding.”
Those whose stress manifests as lethargy—Kapha doshas—can benefit from physical yoga. This constitution will often withdraw under stress, becoming more emotional and moody. Without the motivation to get anything done, that may begin a cycle of helplessness. “Power yoga gives them a sense of empowerment and makes them feel more engaged with their partner, with their life and with the process of planning a wedding.”
Restorative, Meditative and Yin Yoga
This final category is all about restoration and promoting a sense of calm. Classes in this style are often held at night and highlight turning your attention inward. “It’s a very slow-moving, sensual style,” says Riches. “Instructors will often prompt you to access your deepest vulnerabilities, hopes and dreams.” For couples looking to practice yoga together, this style is very intimate. (Some people prefer to practice at home.) The emotional and mental benefits are obvious, but there are physical benefits as well. You’re not going to get ripped doing this style of yoga, but stress is a really damaging thing for us physically. So to the extent that you’re releasing stress, it’s physically beneficial.
If your stress manifests in a fiery manner (a tendency to lash out in anger or to be argumentative), you may be a Pitta dosha. Restorative yoga can help those prone to anger to pause and take things more slowly. Riches adds, “Sometimes they need to burn off that fire, so a powerful practice could be beneficial. But you need to careful that it’s not fanning the flame.”
By approaching your wedding day with mindfulness, you’ll feel proactive rather than frustrated as challenges arise. Riches says yoga can help make you a more mindful and happier person. “With yoga,” Riches says, “the aim is a long-term, sustainable, healthy body and mind.” By starting a new fitness regime early in your planning days, you’ll be able to tackle what comes your way.
See our other articles in the yoga series: