Learn Yoga the Easy Way: By Numbers
For a long time, Elizabeth Morrow couldn’t work out. She had a pulmonary embolism and infection in her right lung and yoga was the only way she could exercise without pain, in a low impact way. Because of the illness, she had to take blood thinners, which put major limitations on her exercise options.
“I was restricted in my physical activities,” Morrow says. “No contact sports and no weight lifting, so I started practicing yoga.” Morrow says that she wanted to practice at home, but using beginner DVDs were not working out well for her. “I was looking for a way to practice at home as a beginner and the DVDs were frustrating because you can imitate what’s happening on the screen but I never knew if I was doing it correctly. Then I started thinking there are lots of people who want to practice at home.”
That’s why she created Yoga by Numbers (YBN), a local company trying to change the way we think about and practice yoga. After receiving her teacher training at South Boston Yoga, Morrow and her team developed a system that’s mainly for beginners or for those who are trying to deepen their practice by perfecting the poses.
The mat has numbered targets and gridlines, which makes it possible for users to follow along easily, as they can check their positioning and alignment and modify poses according to their own ability. “The goal at Yoga by Numbers is to build a ‘bridge to yoga,’” Morrow says. “Lots of people are interested in trying yoga, but face some obstacles. [We] created [the mat] to provide people with a new way to familiarize themselves with yoga, build confidence, and improve their health. We think that creating a straightforward way to learn and practice on one’s own terms is the best way to make yoga accessible to more people.”
YBN is part of the Accelerator Program at The Grommet, a product launch platform based in Somerville, and a Massachusetts benefit corporation, committed to expanding access to yoga and other healthy activities through a home-based system for learning and practicing.
In high school, Morrow worked as a ski instructor so she was already familiar with how people take and learn from verbal and visual instructions. “Concrete instructions make things easier to teach,” she says. And while she acknowledges that there are other mats out there with instructions and/or foot placement markers, she says that YBN is different because it actually guides and teaches the user how to modify their poses for a person’s particular body and flexibility levels. That mat itself is also different. “It’s made in the U.S. and uses 100 percent natural rubber,” Morrow says. “The mats are also 25 percent larger than most mats. It’s 30 inches wide as opposed to 24 inches, and made with all environmentally sustainable materials by Jade Yoga, a top ranked mat manufacturer. It’s custom made for us.”
YBN needs your help to become a reality. The company is currently in the middle of its Kickstarter campaign and wants you to know that if you can count, then you can learn yoga. There are different price levels that will get you downloadable lessons or their DVD, but if you want the actual mat you have to fork over $120. While that price may seem high, it is comparable to other high-end yoga mats. Check out their video below that further explains the entire program.