Newest Review: ... move forward. ** Who is Yoga for ** Everyone! Young, old, male, female, athletic, unfit, fat, thin, whatever and whoever you are you h... more
Why Yoga is For You (yes, you!)
Yoga and your health.
Member Name: rockinrach08
Yoga and your health.
Date: 17/05/12, updated on 09/02/14 (56 review reads)
Advantages: many physiological and psychological benefits, challenging, tailored to suit you
Disadvantages: Don't push yourself too hard. Learning.
I was first interested in yoga during the hype a few years ago and something I have promoted since I first tried it nearly ten years ago now. It offers many health benefits and it can be tailored to what you want to get out of your yoga practice. Whether you want to lose weight, beat stress, become more flexible or increase your strength and endurance there is a type of yoga out their for you.
Some people may dismiss yoga as something just for women, just for 'hippies', just for the flexible or maybe it is just something that isn't for them which is why I am writing this. I believe that everyone has something to gain from incorporating yoga practice into their life. You don't need to be flexible to begin, just a mat, comfortable clothes and a method to learn.
** What is Yoga **
Developed over thousands of years, yoga is the series of poses and movements (asanas) that aim to improve the mind, body and spirit. Indeed, the word yoga comes from the Sanskrit for 'union' and that is the aim of yoga: to unionise the mind, body and the spirit. Practice in the west is less focused on the spiritual side to yoga and instead focuses on the postures and movements but yoga is a varied practice and you will find instructors that incorporate a varying degree of the spiritual side to yoga as you wish.
Practice involves a series of postures and movements that move, stretch and challenge your body whether it is a forward/backward bend, side bend, balance or stretching there is always room to challenge and balance your body. With over 900 variations you do not need to experience the same practice twice and you will always have room for improvement. No matter how little or far you can reach in a posture there is always room to challenge yourself to move further. Which is what yoga is about - improving yourself. Without challenging yourself you don't move forward; you stay at the same place and stagnate. Just as you don't expect someone who lifts weights to keep lifting the same weights for years; you move forward.
** Who is Yoga for **
Everyone! Young, old, male, female, athletic, unfit, fat, thin, whatever and whoever you are you have something to gain from yoga. Whether you are searching for something to relax you, to get you moving, to increase flexibility or strength there are many benefits to doing yoga that you will find a practice that suits you.
There is a stereotype that yoga is for skinny women (just as weightlifting is just for men). It is also seen as simply bending and anyone can do that so why bother? But it is more than that; everyone can feel the benefits of yoga.
And if you have any doubts as to whether you can do yoga, the worlds oldest yoga teacher is 93 (search to see a video of this woman).
** Types of Yoga **
There are a lot of different styles of yoga. The three most commonly practiced are:
- Ashtanga: long holds to build up strength
- Hatha: What is commonly considered 'yoga'. It involves a range of poses and movements that promote strength and flexibility.
- Vinyasa: involes many transitions from pose to pose (including movements such as Sun Salutation). Improves agility.
Others that are commonly practiced/ discussed:
- Kundalini (poses, medidation and chants) - focues on the awakening of the energy from the spine.
- Bikram: yoga performed in heat. Usually follows a special 26 pose routine. Good for flexibility and strength.
- Power: a Western version of yoga. Focus on flexibility and self-discipline. Full body workout.
** Benefits of Yoga **
There are many benefits of yoga which make it perfect for everyone. Here are some of the benefits experienced through yoga:
- Flexibility - full body
- Improve hand-eye coordination
- Improved posture
- Increased endurance
- Improve the immune system
- Pulse rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure decreases
- Increases cardiovascular efficiency
- Physical and spiritual balance
- Strengthens muscles
- Normalises the function of body systems (gastrointestinal, excretory, endocrime, musculoskeletal)
- Improves mood and feeling of well-being
- Decrease in anxiety and depression
- Improves attention, memory and concentration
- Increases energy
- Improves sleep
- Improved cognitive function
** Problems of Yoga **
Of course, every exercise can be bad for you if you do it wrong. If you push yourself too far into a posture then it can lead to injury. You have to listen to your body to understand how far you can go into postures.
If you need to seek advice from your doctor regarding your physical activities then do so before starting your yoga practice.
** Where to do Yoga **
So now that you are thinking of giving yoga a go, where do you start? As a popular form of exercise/ relaxation there are yoga studios everywhere. Search for one near you that meets what you are looking to get out of your practice. Give a few places a trial and find an instructor that works for you. Just because you don't like one instructor doesn't mean you won't find another that you do like.
While it is good to get the advice from an instructor on your form, there is always the option of using DVD's or online videos. It can be easier to understand if a DVD is going to give you what you want out of practice but then you are limited to the variations of practice that you can gain so you may want a few DVDs untill you can create your own routine. It does have the added benefit of being able to exercise from home which is great if you are limited for time (or lifestyle reasons mean that going to a class at a fixed time is difficult. There is an issue with not having an instructor commenting on your form and receiving advice from DVD instructors that do not fully explain what you should be doing in a pose. Look out for well received DVDs and if you want to check your form you could record yourself during practice.
** But I don't have time! **
If you really want something you can find the time to do it. If you can't take even twenty/ thirty minutes out of your day a week then you need to reprioritise things. I understand that people have busy lives but you need time to relax, just for yourself.
People give out all sorts of excuses constantly as to why they don't do yoga/ any exercise. If it is something you really want you will find a way to do it. It may mean sacrificing something else but it will be worth it in the end.
** My Personal Experience **
I first tried yoga about seven years ago when there was somewhat of a craze. I was really looking for another workout that would help me acheive my ideal body. I continued on with my yoga journey. I tried many DVDs (unfortunately I didn't have any classes nearby and I was too young to travel far). I noticed that I felt so much more relaxed and better about myself, not just after practice but throughout the day and week. I was more mindful of my posture and moved with a lot more grace.
Since then I have had periods of doing lots of yoga and doing very little. Every time I come back to it I realise just how much it has been benefiting me. Flexibility is an important one, I go back and realise I cannot get as deep into a pose as I once could. So I just go as far as I can while still challenging myself.
My favourite poses are 'Tree' and 'Crow' but awkward chair and childs pose are my least favourite.
** Conclusion **
I cannot recommend yoga enough. Whether you are currently active in another mode of exercise or not, there is a way to make yoga work for you. I cannot stress enough that it is not just for skinny, young women or 'hippies'. It is for everyone and that is what makes it beautiful. From the physiological benefits such as flexibility and strength to the psychological benefits such as improved sleep, concentration and relaxation; everyone has room to benefit from practice.
Find a class or a DVD that works for you, do your homework and get into that 'down dog'.
Summary: Yoga is a fantastic exercise for the body and mind.