Why Do Yoga?
Should I try Yoga??
Don't you just sit around and relax??
Au contraire! Check out all of the benefits that adding a yoga class can add to exercise programs for women!
If you observe a yoga class you will see people moving through “asanas,” or postures. These postures move you through the full range of motion of every joint in your body as you awaken and strengthen each muscle. Yoga is hard work, but unlike impact training where you contract (shorten) each muscle as you engage it; yoga lengthens and stretches your muscles while strengthening them. This creates long, lean muscle.
Yoga builds core strength, helping you strengthen muscles to evenly support your skeletal system so you can stand, sit, and move more fully and easily. It also helps you with body awareness: which muscles do you need to use to balance, stretch, support yourself, and which do you not need? You will start to notice where you hold unnecessary tension and stress, and how to release it.
You don’t have to bend like a pretzel to come to yoga class. The postures work on opening in all directions: forward bends, backbends, twists. The aim is to create a balance of strength and flexibility, something that improves over time, with practice. Listen to your own body. Never force yourself into a pose trying to look like the person next to you. It’s not about how you look, it’s about how you feel. Notice which muscles allow you ease of movement and which are tight, and learn how you can encourage further range of movement.
Find Your Balance
What if I can’t stand on one leg? You will learn that being aware of how you place your feet is the first step. Then you’ll learn about how the energy moves in your body and how your core strength is involved, in stillness and in movement. You will notice that focus is paramount. The second you start thinking of your to-do list instead of the asana, you will lose your balance. You will learn to access your center of balance in all kinds of positions, even upside down. It will come!
Learn to Let Go
It’s true—each yoga practice does end lying down on the floor in a final relaxation called “savasana.” This is an important time of letting go of each muscle in your body, of holding any tension, of all thoughts in your mind. It is a time of healing and renewal for your body, giving it space to incorporate and absorb all you have learned during the yoga session. After all your hard work, savasana feels like dessert. It may well become your favorite part of the class.
Yoga teaches how to connect movement and breath, to move with awareness and focus. With practice, it becomes a form of moving meditation, of moving inwards. As you leave class after final relaxation you will probably find yourself in a calm, centered place, relaxed in mind and in the body. Yoga can teach you how to access this place again any time you need it. Who doesn’t need that?
Article submitted by Amanda Lloyd.