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The Beauty of Yoga
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Yoga means different things to different people. For some it’s a weekly class and a chance to stretch and find balance. For others it is a daily way of life. Increasingly, we’re learning that whatever form it takes, there are many potential benefits for a healthy lifestyle.
Yoga is a thousand-year-old practice that really didn’t become well known in the West until the late 19th and early 20th centuries. There are many different types, or schools, of yoga but the one most of us are most familiar with is Hatha yoga. This form focuses on a series of poses designed to increase strength and flexibility, as well as mental focus. Within the general framework of Hatha yoga, there are many different variations including vinyasa, kundalini, ashtanga, yin, Iyengar and Bikram, to name just a few.
One of the biggest benefits of yoga as an exercise program is that almost anyone can practice it in some form. You don’t need to be an athlete and no expensive equipment is necessary. As a personal trainer,I provide private yoga sessions to many of my clients. Beginners especially love this if they are intimidated by a new class or confused by instructional videos. Clients looking to further their practice or get back into yoga enjoy private training as well. Private training gives you the platform to ask questions and try new things that you might not be comfortable trying in a group or class.There are modifications for every pose to accommodate any fitness or mobility level. Restorative yoga classes, and other slower, gentler forms such as yin are often a better choice for beginners than more physically demanding types such as ashtanga or Bikram.
Attention to breath is a key feature of almost every form of yoga. Focusing on your breath encourages you to silence the chatter in your head and listen to your own body. Many people find the meditative aspects of yoga improve mental clarity, and produce calmness and a sense of well-being.
According to the Mayo Clinic, practicing yoga can reduce stress, improve fitness, and even help manage chronic conditions such as heart disease and high blood pressure. Studies have also shown that yoga can reduce symptoms and improve quality of life for individuals suffering from depression, pain, anxiety and insomnia.
Increased flexibility, improved balance, and better range of motion are some of the most immediate changes that students new to yoga notice. These payoffs also help reduce your risk of injury in sports and everyday life activities.
Better posture is another desirable result of practicing yoga. Many sitting and standing poses improve core strength, which makes it easier to stand up straight. This is especially important as we begin to age, since the spine will naturally tend to curve, causing a loss in height over time and an increase in slouching. Yoga can help keep those muscles stronger, which will also keep your posture and spine in better alignment.
In the last few decades, yoga has become very popular, with classes available at just about every gym, health club, and community center in the country. Professional athletes, celebrities, and people from all walks of life are becoming fans of this ancient practice.
So if you’re looking to incorporate something new into your wellness routine, consider yoga. It might just put some extra Spring in your step!