Benefits of Yoga

Many women and men do yoga because it makes them feel good–in body, mind, and spirit. If you already practice yoga, you understand! If you don’t, you may fall into one of two groups:

  1. You’re intrigued. And you’re hopeful. You’re thinking: ‘Hey, I’d like to feel that way too!’ And maybe you’ve already been told or have read about how good  yoga can be for you, so you’re already excited to get started. Or …
  2. You’re skeptical. Maybe you feel pretty inflexible or you have an injury (e.g., sore back), so you’re not sure any physical practice will feel good.  Or maybe you’re up for the physical benefits, but you’re thinking that the “mind and spirit” stuff seems a little strange and not what you’re interested in. That’s totally cool.  In yoga circles we say, whatever brings you “to the mat” (to yoga) is exactly right and perfect for you. We’ll meet you there; just come exactly as you are.

It’s no surprise that yoga is enjoying a huge surge in popularity in our society. In earlier decades, yoga was thought of as counter-culture; something only  hippies or real “crunchy granola” types did. But these days much (but not all!) of that stigma is gone. Yoga’s gone “mainstream.” If you look around, you’ll see yoga studios in just about every town, in every state, all across America. Possibly you’ve noticed yoga classes at your health club. You may be aware that yoga is offered at medical centers, hospitals, cancer wellness centers, and mental health organizations. There’s a very good chance your coach, your trainer, your therapist or your doctor has recommended yoga to you.

So why all the “sudden” attention? It’s not so sudden. Yoga has been around for about 5000 years. For our purposes, when we’re speaking of “yoga”, we’re talking about a physical system of exercise derived from ancient traditions in India. The Sanskrit word “yoga” means “to yoke” or “to join” body, mind, and spirit. Through the practice of yoga (including stretching the muscles of the body and  breathing deeply) the earliest devotees of the practice sought to integrate the mind and the body in order to forge a more balanced, peaceful sense of self.

Today, many of us are seeking this same balance. We live in a cultural climate that moves at a warp speed pace. We hold technology in our hands, able to text a friend in Rome, while we Skype ourself in for a meeting with clients, as we plan a guest list for an upcoming party in our heads.  We can check in on how the Stock Market is doing via Google, as we shop at the grocery store, while arranging a playdate for our child. Many of us feel guilty if we’re not doing three things at once! Sound familiar? While we may indeed be getting more done faster than ever, many of us are paying the price. Stress is at an all time high, and many of us don’t know how to relieve it.  Which brings us back to yoga.

Perhaps it is the very nature of this fast-paced, multiple-tasking world in which we function (or are trying to function!) that is responsible for the growing popularity of yoga. We are seeking balance! Many of us are exhausted. We are stressed out. Not to mention the alarming increases in obesity, depression, substance abuse, and stress-related disorders (among them, certain cases of heart disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and fibromyalgia) in our society.  So yoga may be exactly what we, as a society, need. And Breathe is just where we should all practice!

The benefits of yoga are far reaching, but to sum it up, yoga will …

  • Improve strength, increase balance and improve flexibility.
  • Assist with weight loss and weight management.
  • Improve concentration and cognitive ability.
  • Reduce stress; improve relaxation.
  • Improve menstrual symptoms.
  • Improve menopausal symptoms (including hot flashes).
  • Overall,  provide an improvement in one’s sense of wellness, balance and peacefulness.

Now for those of you who are too busy to read all of that stuff up above, here are the Cliff Notes:

Stretching your muscles, breathing deeply, and being focused will improve blood and oxygen flow in your body, make you feel renewed and refreshed, and leave you feeling more relaxed. You’ll also get stronger and more flexible.  It’s that simple.


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