August 18, 2011 in exercise
(Photo credit here.)
There are many reasons why I’m in love with yoga. It goes beyond improving your body physically; it has emotional benefits as well. It’s the perfect exercise to become more relaxed and improve your flexibility.
The type of yoga you’ll see today taught in classes is a very westernized version. Hinduism scriptures that date back to 400 BCE mention the practice of yoga, but the main purpose of practicing was to achieve a peaceful and meditational state of mind. It’s clear they also did yoga for physical benefits such as flexibility, but that wasn’t their main purpose. They performed yoga much slower than you’d see here in modern day US because their aim was to calm their mind. “Hot yoga” and “power yoga” are examples of classes we have developed. These forms would be too vigorous of exercises to be able to meditate through, which was the true purpose of ancient yoga.
It depends on the yoga class you attend, but I find yoga is great to alternate with cardio. For example, doing a day of running and then a day of yoga is great because your body can recoup from a high intensity workout. This way your body will stay flexible and you’re not at risk of over-training. My dad was training every day with P90X (a vigorous workout program) and when he tried swimming one day he ended up hurting his shoulder. He’s been unable to lift weights like he’d like to. Making sure you don’t over-work your muscles is very important. Yoga doesn’t require any equipment which makes it available to anyone. Once you learn a few stretches, you can practice yoga on your own at any time of the day, for any amount of time.
Deep breathing and meditation is involved which makes it so great for us mentally. After I do yoga, I find myself very relaxed and at peace and it benefits me in other areas of my life. It helps with anxiety because the deep breathing techniques you learn are one of the best ways to diffuse feelings of anxiety, as we’ll talk about later. Not only is it beneficial emotionally, but my body is much more flexible and I don’t have irritating pains in my body that I might have when I’m not doing yoga.
The benefits of yoga are just too wonderful to not receive. Start incorporating yoga into your exercise and I promise you won’t regret it! When I was in Greece, I did yoga on the balcony of our hotel. I had an amazing view of the Mediterranean Sea and it was one of the most relaxing experiences ever! Do you have a good spot outside or in your house where you can practice yoga?