What is Yoga?
Yoga is the process by which you get out of your head and into your body. By using a series of physical postures and your breath, you can develop a better understanding of the many different aspects of yourself. Yoga develops a personal awareness of your physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual states and helps bring them together. Yoga is a deeply personal experience; you create your practice and in turn learn about yourself.
Who can practice Yoga?
Everyone and anyone can practice yoga. Whether you can stand on your head or barely bend over towards your toes. You need not come with strength, flexibility, experience or spirituality. You do not even have to come with willingness or an open mind. Just come as YOU, that’s all you need; to come and give it a chance.
At the end of class we often say Namaste. What the heck does it mean? In Yoga this is the highest form of respect one can pay to another human being. It is a humble greeting or farewell that means: I honor the place within you in which the entire Universe dwells; I honor the place in you which is of love, of truth, of light and of peace.
Health Benefits of Yoga
A central premise in Yoga is that “everything is connected.” That’s clear when looking at the health and fitness benefits of Yoga that have long been reported by practitioners and are now being confirmed by scientific research.
1) Stress Relief: Yoga reduces the physical effects of stress on our body by encouraging us to relax and lowering the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Related benefits include lowering blood pressure and heart rate, improving digestion, and boosting the immune system, as well as easing symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, asthma and insomnia.
2) Pain Relief: Yoga can ease pain. Studies have demonstrated that practicing Yoga asanas (postures), meditation or a combination of the two, reduced pain for people with conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, auto-immune diseases and hypertension as well as arthritis, back and neck pain and other chronic conditions.
3) Better Breathing: Yoga teaches us to take slower, deeper breaths. This helps improve lung function and trigger the body’s relaxation response.
4) Flexibility: Yoga helps to improve flexibility and mobility, increasing range of movement and reducing aches and pains.
5) Increased Strength: Yoga asanas (postures) use every muscle in the body, helping to increase strength literally from head to toe. Yoga also helps to relieve muscular tension.
6) Weight Management: Yoga (even less vigorous styles) can aid weight control efforts by reducing cortisol levels in our bodies, as well as by burning off excess calories and reducing stress. Yoga also encourages healthy eating habits and provides a heightened sense of well being and self-esteem.
7) Improved Circulation: Yoga helps to improve circulation and, as a result of various poses, more efficiently moves oxygenated blood to the body’s cells.
8) Cardiovascular Conditioning: Even a gentle Yoga practice can provide cardiovascular benefits by lowering resting heart rate, increasing endurance and improving oxygen uptake during exercise.
9) Better Body Alignment: Yoga helps to improve body alignment. resulting in better posture and helping to relieve back, neck, joint and muscle problems. It opens the way to improved coordination, reaction time and memory.
10) Focus On The Present: Yoga helps us to focus on the present, to become more centered and aware and to help create mind/body health.