The 1980’s had spandex filled workouts leading to the moves of Jane Fonda. The next decade brought business minded exercise gurus convincing the masses through infomercials, pleading their complex contraptions were the answers to your body image prayers. Those prayers “just cost four easy payments of 19.99!” As we entered a new millennium, the idea of exercise took a new direction and encompassed so much more than just being fit. A fit body without health in your mind, and soul just doesn’t seem do it for many people today. Rather than hopping into a whole new exercise craze to only end up chasing dissatisfaction; we as a society are becoming more concerned with what we eat, how we feel and how our future selves will be affected with what we do now.
This is where Yoga, also known as Asana, enters the Western world by storm. Yoga meaning “to unite”, took root in Hinduism and the practice dates back more than 5,000 years. Yoga began as a spiritual practice that encompasses physical movements to help understand the mind, body and emotional self. In our go, go, go world of today, Yoga is bringing comprehensive benefits from a one-hour class that can be added into any life style and schedule. Although, Asana has lost much of its true original spiritual essence practiced by followers of Hinduism thousands of years ago, there are incredibly powerful benefits participating in the practice.
Yoga’s benefits transcend to all types lifestyles. From the professional athlete who trains four times a day to the 65-year-old lady with osteoporosis and arthritis, the benefits are there. The following are just a few benefits of Yoga. Flexibility is more than the ability to put your leg behind your head, it helps increase physical performance and is extremely vital in helping injury prevention. Each time you practice yoga, you take your joints through a full range of motion that help “squeeze and soak” areas of cartilage within the joints. The “squeezing,” allows the cartilage to receive (soak up) fresh nutrients. Without proper nourishment, neglected areas of cartilage can eventually wear out, leading to many injuries and possible surgical procedures. Yoga also strengthens muscles, which help in preventing conditions such as: arthritis and chronic back pain. Study’s shows that weight-bearing exercises as the ones done in Yoga help strengthen muscles and bones that can lead to prevention of osteoporosis. Poses such as Downward and Upward dog strengthen the arms, which are particularly vulnerable to osteoporotic fractures.
In addition, the practice of Yoga helps clean the blood from waste materials through lymphatic stimulation. The contractions and stretching Yoga postures embody increase the drainage of the lymph (a viscous fluid rich in immune cells). This helps the lymphatic system fight infection, destroy cancerous cells, and dispose of the toxic waste products of cellar functioning. Yoga can also positively affect your mental state of mind and sprit. The deep level of focus you utilize on the mat expand your practice while transcending into your daily life. Regular practice allows you to get to know yourself on a deeper level.
The beauty of Yoga is that nothing is permanent. Every moment will pass leaving a new moment to be discovered and conquered. During your initial Yoga classes, you may not be able to hold the pretzel bending postures at first, but that moment passes and leaving you with new hopeful moments. What remains is the present moment and your next attempt to try again. Yoga does not know failure; it embodies the idea of a different path. The practice of Yoga is based on relativity of your own level and current state. You live each session on your own path. Like Yoga, the path to your goals is relative to your own life and every path encounters challenges. One must continue down that path despite its hardships to reach the goal. This is where Yoga feeds both the mind and sprit on and off the mat.
So try it! Take one hour to invest your mind, body and sprit. It has stuck around for over 5,000 years to see you… #Namaste.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Founder of Feedthemindbodysoul, guiding the balance in nurturing your mind, body, and soul through holistic healthcare. She advises uses of food, exercise, and keeping a positive outlook as a mechanism to honor thyself.