Do you yoga? The answer will vary among readers. But closer study of the meaning of “yoga” may reveal a resounding yes, even if you’ve never done the stretches, binds and twists typically associated with the term.
Yoga means union. Yoga encompasses many aspects but can easily be summed up as the study and practice of life. If you have a regular spiritual and devotional practice, reflect upon self, live a mindful existence and treat others with love and respect you are a yogi!
Yoga asana (commonly referred to as yoga in the United States, and hereafter in this article) is the practice of moving, stretching, and breathing that most people are relatively familiar with. However asana is only one of the eight limbs of yoga. In this article, we will focus on the health benefits that come with a regular yoga practice.
First lets debunk some myths… Everyone can do yoga. Regardless of age, strength, flexibility, and other physical capabilities. There are practices designed to meet everyone’s needs.
As a yoga teacher I feel like I am constantly debunking myths for people who say: “I’m not flexible enough” or “I do it, but I’m not very good.”
To which I answer: You don’t have to be flexible to do yoga. There are modifications to help all body types access poses and doing a yoga pose in any amount can bring about numerous health benefits. There are also practices such as chair yoga designed for people with limited mobility.
Second, Yoga is not something you can be “good” at. It’s about doing the practice; YOUR practice! If yoga were a competition, the winner would be the person with the quietest mind, not the person who can do a handstand or human pretzel. So you may be better than you think!
A regular yoga practice can bring incredible health benefits. It is great for your heart as it increases cardiovascular strength and endurance. The calming effects of a regular practice can lower blood pressure. Yoga increases lung capacity and improves respiration, making you feel energized and further improving vitality. It also improves digestive functions and aids in detoxifying and eliminating waste.
Yoga contributes to weight loss by burning excess body fat. At the same time it strengthens, builds and tones muscles. With the increase in flexibility and range of motion from a yoga practice you become more resistant to injuries, recover from injuries and exercise more quickly. Yoga also improves immune system functions, balance, reaction time, cognitive awareness, and proprioception.
On a mental/emotional level most people find themselves with an improved mood, clearer thinking, more patience, and a general feeling of calmness and relaxation. There is tons of science out there to support these statements if you would like to do further research.
If you’re wanting to start and don’t know how, you can look up yoga poses and practices online. Different poses have different purposes and benefits and there are tons of practices on youtube.
I highly recommend going to a studio or a teacher. They can help you find ways to access poses that work for you, and introduce you to a community of likeminded individuals. If you have a friend who practices yoga I am sure they would love to take you along.
Remember as you’re starting that yoga is supposed to feel good. If something hurts or doesn’t feel right, come out of the pose. Keep in mind that doing a yoga pose in any amount that is comfortable is good. Remember to bring your awareness to your breath and let the breath guide you from pose to pose, and most importantly keep an open, calm, quiet mind.