What Yoga Can Do For You?   

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.

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 think?

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 results.

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. 

Happy reading,

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