1.) Improved flexibility, yes. Improved strength, YES!!!!!! I think a lot of people have the assumption that yoga is solely for stretching purposes, for stress relief, or for relaxation. While it is definitely all of these things, I think what people don’t realize is how much yoga can increase strength! I can’t say that I always push myself hard enough when I’m exercising that my body shakes! Yet, I find myself shaking at some point during EVERY yoga class I attend. Yes, yoga improves flexibility. Yes, yoga is relaxing, it reduces stress, and it’s great for increased flexibility. However, when you are holding warrior 1/2 or crow pose for minutes, or flowing through your sun salutations and doing numerous chaturanga’s in 10 minutes, strength is the word that comes to my mind… Holding yoga postures lengthen and strengthen our muscles.
2.) There are racquetball courts next to us? I’ve probably been practicing yoga for 5 or 6 years, but I’ve been attending classes regularly in the past year, and I can tell a difference when it comes to reflecting on my increased self-awareness, focus and mindfulness. I practice yoga at a ymca, and the yoga room is literally between a racquet ball court and the cycle studio. You might be thinking, “How can that be peaceful?” The truth is, I forget all about it! As the class wraps us and the instructor instructs us to “bring back our awareness,” I am immediately reminded of what is actually around me, and what I was able to block out for one hour. Not only am I able to forget about the things going on around me, I’m able to leave whatever I may have going on for me at the door. Yoga teaches us to quiet the mind.
3.) Importance of breath. A key component to practicing yoga is breath. This is not something that came easy to me when I first began. It is not often that we focus on our breath, and I think this is why I first struggled with this. I am beginning to now understand the importance in focusing on my breath to get me through a pose. Not only that, but concentrating on my breathing encourages me to be more in the present moment and bring all of my awareness to my mat. While we may leave our “yoga practice” on our mats at the end of a class, our yoga skills stay with us each day…Yoga teaches us to focus on our breathing which brings us to the present, and also has health benefits such as reducing stress and anxiety.
4.) Options for being challenged. I think most yogi’s would agree with me on this one, EVERY yoga class is DIFFERENT! There are SO many options as far as styles of yoga practice (hatha, ashtanga, bikram, hot yoga, vinyasa, the list goes on and on). And that’s just talking the different types of yoga classes. Instructors are all different and unique. And even if you go to the same instructor all the time, there so many variations for formatting yoga classes. With that said, the chance of getting bored with yoga is very unlikely, and the change of you being challenged (mentally/physically) each time you practice yoga, you know the answer… 😉 Yoga challenges the body and mind. There are different yoga class styles for everyone.
5.) Encourages overall health and wellness –for life. Yoga is not just about exercising, it’s about living a healthy life style. The breathing and meditation that is encouraged during yoga practice is something we can incorporate into our everyday lives. The peace and tranquility we can achieve when we quiet our minds, allow us to be still in an often times crazy world. Yoga helps us decrease our stress, and allows us time for ourselves. Yes, that’s right, YOU time. Yoga is a lifelong gift that increases health and wellness.
It’s time for bed yogi’s. Have a great Tuesday. -Jessica