-By Josee Smith
Yoga has been around of thousands of years, it is a cherished practice in Eastern culture and is used by millions in the United States. While some may not know this, yoga is a science, and not some mystical hocus pocus as some believe it to be.
Reasons To Choose Yoga
The rapidly advancing urban life on today’s generation seems to have taken away both the space and the time – the space in terms of parks for running or safe pedestrian streets for walking.
Lack of open spaces and growth in the concrete jungle has made many reconsider the options of a healthier lifestyle and being in the midst of nature for exercise. With that, came the growth in the gym culture.
More and more people love to work out at a gymnasium with modern equipment to maintain their fit frame. However, busy schedules have wreaked havoc on the time men and women can spare to go somewhere for exercise.
Also, many are too tired and drained both physically and mentally at the end of the day to jazz up for some strenuous exercise. If you are one of them and yet want to remain healthy and fit, then you could consider yoga.
Yoga soothes the body and the soul and is a great option for the 21st century.
Breathe In and Out
Firstly, yoga is a great option for inner peace. One could do that with various Pranayam poses which essentially translate to breathing techniques and control.
The regulation of air in our body leads to a boost in metabolism as well as oxygen in our system, leaving us fresh and energized. It is done sitting cross legged on the floor and controlling the air input and output through the nose.
Sometimes the hands are also used for added benefits.
More Benefits Of Yoga
• Then there are multiple poses for one to try. They aim at increasing your flexibility and balance.
• They also target the core muscles and strengthen them.
• Yoga is great for weight loss and pain relief too.
• Since it goes slowly, there is not much stress on the body to perform and keep up.
• One can do them at a steady pace and aim at perfection of each pose for the best results.
• If you are overly ambitious and have a fit body that is used to working out, then you could try the Surya Namaskar. It is a combination of 10 poses with alternate breathing in and breathing out methodology for each pose. Needless to say, it targets every part of your body and can be strenuous.
Prep up with some yoga style stretching, do the entire move for 10 reps twice and then end with some Pranayam for the best results.
The Poses and What They Target
However, if this is difficult as a beginner, then there are plenty of standing, sitting, lying, balancing and relaxing poses for you to practice.
You could alternate them and do it thrice a week for optimum results. Mountain pose, pyramid pose, raise hand pose, forward bend pose, downward facing dog and warrior pose are some of the standing pose which is fairly simple for all beginners.
This essentially stretches your entire body. If you are working towards developing your core strength and balance then the plank pose and the tree pose are a must.
There is always the issue of back and neck pain or fat accumulation in the back due to sitting and working the entire day.
Focusing on the spine, the cat-cow stretch, the cobra pose and the bridge pose bring in some great benefits if done properly. The Staff pose, head to knee pose, seated forward bend, cobbler’s pose, seated wide legged straddle are some seated poses targeting the thigh muscles and could be attempted after the body is warmed up.
Lastly, there are tons of resting poses to put you in a relaxed frame of mind towards the end of a workout session.
Some of them are pelvic tilts, legs up the wall pose, happy baby pose, Goddess pose, child’s pose, etc.
Yoga has been practiced in India for 6000 years. And, while it has its origins in Eastern culture, it has hit the Western world by storm.
Today, more than 19 million Americans practice yoga, and millions more do across the world. It is also a multi-billion dollar per industry.
Those who do yoga report various reason for engaging in this unique fitness routine, some of which include:
- Build strength
- General fitness
- Peace and contentment
- Reduction of stress
- and much more
If you see yogis (persons who practice and teach yoga), you can see how well-developed their bodies are. They don’t necessarily bulk up, but you can tell that they have strength and endurance.
Main Benefits Of Yoga
Since the movements and poses in yoga are deliberate and yet slow, they do not strain muscles. Instead, the movements allow for better blood circulation, better stretching of muscles and it helps strengthen the joints.
Endurance, or the ability to bear pain for prolonged periods of time is also increased with consistent practice of yoga.
As the body gains strength, so it also gains endurance. As the mind is able to control its reactions to stresses, so it learns to modify its perception of pain.
What most people do not realize is that yoga is not just an exercise regimen or a workout but the slow and deep breathing is meditative. It allows the person to quiet their mind as they quiet their body by concentrating on breathing slowly and deeply. The first thing you’ll notice is that the slow and deep breaths cleanse and remove the clutter from your mind. You’ll also notice that if you feel agitated, the slow deep breathing of yoga calms you down.
The effect of yoga is cumulative. This means that if you consistently practice yoga even outside of your scheduled yoga classes, the good effects on your mind and your body increase the longer you practice yoga. For instance, when slow and deep breathing becomes a habit, you can see how it helps you relax even in the most tense and intense moments of your work day.
The cumulative effect is that your body learns to avoid stress reactions. Stress reactions are the body’s way of preparing us to fight or to flee situations which are perceived to be dangerous and threatening.
This helps you when a barking dog chases you while you are jogging. However, when the stress reaction is prolonged or recurrent as when your body prepares to rush to meet deadlines all day, every day or prepares to “fight” with people who make life difficult for you, you are living with stress. Stress becomes a way of life and it overworks the heart and causes a lot of wear and tear in our organs.
Stress which is chronic or prolonged alters the chemistry in the brain, too. It makes you irritable and it affects your concentration and focus. It increases your vulnerability to diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and coronary artery disease. Yoga, because it helps you relax and neutralize stress, also helps you avoid these lifestyle diseases, as well.
Yoga’s meditative component increases your self-awareness. This means that you become more aware of how you feel and what you are thinking. This makes it easier for you to self-evaluate, reflect and modify your emotional responses to everyday stresses and adversities.
When you learn to modify your emotional responses, you also learn to put things in perspective. You’ll find yourself resisting anxious and depressing thoughts. The slow deep breathing which increases blood flow to the brain also helps to lift mood. You become more positive in your outlook.
Since yoga keeps the mind clear, it becomes possible to process information faster and to absorb them more readily. It does not make you smarter by increasing your IQ, but you learn to focus and make decisions more readily. You learn to use your faculties more purposively.