The yoga craze has exploded in the United States over the past 2 decades, and it shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. We are bombarded with images of slender, over-flexible, scantily clad models in poses that look anything but comfortable or healthy. Yet we hear how beneficial yoga is for everyone, even those of us who can’t touch our toes. And, in fact, it is true.
Yoga, an ancient Indian word, means “to yoke or join”. It can be expressed as the joining of body, mind and spirit. Yoga is more than just exercise. It is a focused discipline through which we can calm and focus the mind, engage and make full use of our breath, or life force, and improve our physical health.
Real Life Benefits
If you have doubts about the real-life health benefits of yoga, you can read any of the writings of Timothy McCall, M.D., who has authored a book called “Yoga as Medicine”. Thorough medical research has proven real relief in numerous conditions from Asthma to Scoliosis.
If you are brand new to yoga, it is highly recommended that you start with a small beginner Hatha Yoga class. Hatha Yoga is technically the physical postures of yoga, but it has come to be associated with a gentle stretching yoga style. Before you attend, get a description of the class and bio of the instructor. Speak to your physician if there is any concern about beginning a yoga practice. Before class, always let your instructor know of any conditions you have (injuries, illnesses, chronic pain, etc.). Experienced teachers will have modifications for any poses that might be difficult or unhealthy for you.
No Need To Compare
It may be hard at first, but try not to compare the way your pose looks to that of the person next to you in class. Watching experienced students is a good way to learn, but try not to be frustrated that you are at a different point than someone else. You are exactly where you need to be at this moment to benefit from each posture if you are mindfully trying your best and keeping your body safe and comfortable.
Flexibility, stress relief, freedom from pain, digestive improvement, reduction of headaches, carpal tunnel repair, improved mental health and much more can be part of the health benefits you receive from a yoga practice.