Improve Your Health and Happiness with Yoga

Yoga is a 5,000 year old blend of mind and body exercise. Practiced by millions in the U.S. for its many benefits, yoga can be enjoyed by nearly everyone. In fact, there is probably a beginner's yoga class at a gym in your neighborhood just waiting to get you started.

Rooted in ancient India, the word "yoga" means "union." This refers to the desired union between the spiritual being and the physical being. Yoga has eight foundational elements: moral interactions with others, healthy personal habits, prescribed body positions, controlled breathing, sensory modification, mental acuity /concentration, meditation, and enlightenment (achieving a higher consciousness).

At its core, yoga is a series of body positions (some with fun names such as downward dog, warrior and sun salutation) combined with controlled breathing and mental focus. An attractive feature of yoga is the progressive nature of the body poses, allowing people of any age and level of fitness to participate and advance. The controlled transition from one yoga position to the next is extremely gentle to the bones and connective tissues, making it an ideal form of exercise as people age. Practitioners of yoga enjoy improvements in their strength, flexibility (range of motion), and emotional outlook. Numerous medical studies have shown that yoga can improve mental acuity, lower high blood pressure, counteract stress, improve lung capacity, and reduce depression and insomnia.

Yoga is safe for most healthy people. Like any other exercise regimen, be sure to check in with your physician before you begin. There are certain medical situations such as spinal conditions, high or low blood pressure, eye pathology, arterial disease, history of blood clots, or inner ear conditions that would preclude certain positions or poses. Remember to start slowly and let your body be your guide as to how quickly you should progress.

Getting started with yoga is easy. Nearly every fitness center, YMCA and community college has a beginning yoga class. Look around and find a class that fits your needs and lifestyle. Be sure that your level of commitment matches that of the other participants. It is never a good idea to mix "gung ho" and "ho hum" in the same yoga class. Definitely give yoga a try!

Yoga is much for fun with a buddy. If you don't know anyone interested in learning yoga, check out and find a yoga buddy near you. As a mind and body experience it is accessible to nearly everyone - hard body or couch potato, pre-teen or golden-ager - and can be a wonderful way to stay fit.

No comments:

Post a Comment