What Yoga Can Do For You?
One sure sign that the centuries-old discipline of
yoga has entered the mainstream is the fact that
advertisers me now using yoga-inspired ads to market
products as diverse as water, shampoo, facial soap,
and calcium supplements.
A whole industry hawking yoga apparel, accessories,
books, and videos has also emerged. Yoga-themed
cruises and vacation packages are even now being
offered by travel agents.
But in spite of all the media mileage and the fact
that your friends' vocabularies now include words
like asana, chakra and namaste, you might still be
wondering if all that fuss over yoga is just that -
fuss. After all, there is a dizzying assembly line
of fitness programs to choose from these days and
not enough time to give half of them a try.
Here's why it's worth including at least one yoga
class a week in your exercise schedule.
UNION OF THREE
The tenet "mind, body, spirit" may have become too
cliched but yoga delivers genuine results. No matter
what kind of yoga class you take, three things will
tell you you're doing authentic yoga and not just
simulating acrobatic movements: Awareness or
mindfulness of what you are doing (mind), conscious
relaxation of your muscles (body), and conscious
control of the breath (spirit).
Mara Carrico, author of "Yoga Journal's Yoga
Basics," says that a simple way to remember these
three principles is to "focus, relax and breathe."
The word "yoga" means "union." Learning to unify
your mind, body and spirit translates into practical
benefits in the real world.
Sharpening your focus and concentration will make
you more productive at work. Knowing how to relax
your muscles will help ease away tension from your
neck, shoulders and back. Breathing control will
invariably help you keep your emotions in check and
calm you down in stressful situations.
Many people don't realize the role stress plays in
weight management. Chronic stress, brought on by the
constant, unrelenting presence of the stress hormone
cortisol, may make you prone to overeat or binge and
store fat in your midsection.
If you have been having a hard time losing weight,
take steps to minimize the amount of stress you go
through every day.
All forms of exercise help to reduce stress but the
"focus, relax and breathe" technique that yoga
enforces gives you more bang for your buck. After
all, if you can control your thoughts, muscles and
breathe while in a challenging upside down or
twisted position, doing so during stressful moments
at work or at home will be much easier, don't you
PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL BALANCE
Yoga develops both strength and flexibility at the
same time-how's that for saving time? Even if you
already have separate strength and stretching
routines at the gym, yoga will challenge your
muscles in an altogether different way. When it
comes to muscle shaping and toning, the variety of
drills yoga promotes will endow you with better
Many yoga poses test your balance and consequently
force you to use your core muscles (abs, lower back,
thighs and buttocks) so you don't fall down easily.
This gives you a litany of benefits- sleek and
strong muscles, better posture, insurance against
accidental falls due to poor balance, and better
athletic performance in sports. No matter what sport
you take up, yoga will improve your performance
mentally, physically and psychologically.
The cushion-like disks in your spine have poor blood
supply and need to be compressed evenly in all
directions to receive the right amount of nutrients
from the blood. That’s why yoga poses take your
spine forward, backward, sideways, and in rotation.
All that moving around also works your internal
organs in different positions and gives them an
internal "massage" No wonder many people claim that
yoga cures constipation.
If you already have a regular exercise routine and
just can't fit one more class in, try substituting
one of your sessions with a yoga class for two
months. Then step back and see for yourself what
yoga can do to improve your mind, body and spirit.