When people hear ‘yoga’ they often think of a certain type of exercise, but it is much more than that. Yoga is not just about working out, it encompasses a healthy lifestyle. Practicing yoga can help someone find stillness in their busy life. For someone with a stressful job or a full schedule, a 30 minute to 1 hour yoga session could reset their mind, body, and soul.
Yoga uses a method of deep breathing and meditation practices, which can help declutter the mind and relieve stress. At the beginning of a yoga class it is often asked for you to set an intention for yourself. This can be quietly done in the mind, as you decide if you want the class to help you focus on something more, to quiet the mind, or to simply relax the mind.
These days you can find many different variations of yoga to fit your needs. Popular examples would be hot yoga, power yoga, and prenatal yoga. There are even more unique ones like yoga raves, which is a healthy option to the normal club scene, and aerial yoga which combines aerial arts and traditional yoga by using anti-gravity silks as a way of suspending you in the air.
People also use yoga as a way of strength training and flexibility. Both of these are incredible benefits to bettering your health and body. The postures used in yoga are meant to strengthen your body from the inside out, leaving you feeling and looking good. This starts with strengthening your core; your spine, which when used properly will alleviate back, shoulder, and neck pain. As with anything that is good for you, the more consistently you practice this, the better off you will be.
Yoga has also been found to lower heart rate and blood pressure. Since stress contributes to blood pressure and heart rate, the more you can de-stress, the better these two will be. Poses such as simple twists and side plank can help open the chest which can contribute to lowering your heart rate. Breath work is a big part of yoga, and this can be very helpful since deep breathing lowers your heart rate and helps your relax.
The great news is that yoga is generally safe for anyone to try. Of course, for pregnant women it would be best to go to a prenatal yoga class with modified poses and those with high blood pressure or sciatica may need to modify some poses to reduce the risk of injury. If you have never taken a yoga class, it is best to start with a beginner class and go at your own pace. Yoga is not a competition between others, it is about bettering yourself and doing what is best for your mind and body. Forget the saying ‘No pain, no gain’. There should be no pain in yoga.
Lastly, more and more doctors are realizing the importance and benefits of yoga and the mind-body connection. At the Inner Harmony Wellness Center, we are strong believers in the benefits of yoga and encourage people to try this method before going to medications and other means of relief. Namaste.