Written by Lauren Weaver, YTT 200
Yoga is an activity that is appropriate for all ages. This article discusses a few benefits of yoga, makes some recommendations for how you might practice and offers tips to get the most out of your time.
There are numerous benefits of yoga. Here are just a few.
Strength, Balance, Flexibility: As our human bodies move through life, they experience injury and natural wearing. Maintaining the body is critical for a healthy life. Appropriate yoga can be a great way to increase strength, balance and flexibility in a way that is both safe and enjoyable.
Back Pain Relief: Many studies, including a recent one from the National Institutes of Health, have shown yoga “eases moderate to severe chronic low back pain” as effectively as standard physical therapy. If you are able to see a physical therapist, ask him or her for advice on what you should and should not do. Present that information to a qualified yoga instructor for best results.
Mind Tranquility: Yoga is centered largely on the mind rather than the body, although our norm in Western society emphasizes physical practice. As such, yoga is beneficial for attaining a calm and content state of mind…something anyone can benefit from by integrating yoga into more aspects of life – daily and in times of trial.
Interested in trying yoga or integrating it more into your existing practice? Here are a few options.
Use Daily: Many best practices from yoga can be integrated into your daily life. Things such as how to intelligently move joints and cultivate self-awareness of your body are taught through yoga. You can even practice while driving, washing dishes, petting animals and even putting on socks!
Take a Class: Finding a class or personal yoga instructor you like and that has a positive impact on your health is well worth the effort. Consider sharing your background and goals with the instructor beforehand to find a good fit for you. Look for studios that emphasize safe practice and make adjustments that feel good for you in your body in any given moment.
Study Solo: While it is ideal to have the guidance of a qualified instructor, sometimes that is just not feasible. Don’t that deter you. There are many books and Web sites with suggestions for incorporating yoga into your life. Organizations such as Yoga International offer classes through the Web that you can watch anywhere and anytime on your own.
Keep these tips in mind to get the most from your yoga practice.
Use These Tools: All you truly need is your mind, your body and the desire to spend some time caring for yourself.
Comfortable clothes that let you move around freely are ideal. If you are practicing on your own, you may want a yoga mat and a clear area of floor big enough for you to stretch out, though you can practice seated in a chair. If you go to a yoga studio, they will provide what is needed for that class. Look for studios that have props such as blankets, bolsters, straps and blocks.
Practice Self-Compassion: Give yourself permission to make any adjustments for pain or discomfort. Be kind to areas of your body that tend to cause you discomfort, such as your joints and any areas of injury or wear. If you feel any pain, move out of that position; pain does not serve you. Remember you know your body more intimately than any other person.
Ask for Personal Advice: We all have different bodies and needs. It can be helpful to seek personalized attention. To do this, seek qualified instructors and ask them for advice. You may find an individual yoga session is invaluable for you, but don’t hesitate to ask an instructor you like after a class.
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