Is Yoga For You? By Cynthia Blanco-Mathers
Modern day Yoga at its best is a practice that can bring a person into complete balance by integrating mind, body and breath. Some other common benefits include weight loss, increased strength and flexibility, better focus, more awareness and even enlightened experiences of unity.
A typical Yoga class consists of mainly physical postures designed in a sequence to effect every aspect of the human form; circulation, digestion, lymphatic system, mental focus, breathing, alignment, parasympathetic system, strength, and flexibility. Most modern day Yoga classes gear their sequences towards the needs of the modern day yogi, which is usually comprised of people who sit at a desk for 8 hours a day staring at a computer screen.
Yoga’s popularity has boomed in the last 20 years and is still continuing to grow. Why is Yoga so appealing to so many? Our culture in the United States is progressively more overworked, disconnected and overstimulated, and people are craving the benefits of Yoga in order to deal with the stresses of everyday life. Yoga’s original purpose was to help people find liberation from whatever ails them. Here in the west people practice Yoga for numerous reasons. Most people first try Yoga for the physical benefits of increased strength and/or flexibility and then many people discover the other benefits, such as improved mood, better sleep, better digestion, and a multitude of other fringe benefits.
Afraid of not being flexible? Fear not! We already thought of that. Yoga is not just for the super flexible. It will help improve flexibility in a safe way, when taught well. Yoga can also help hyper-mobile people- such as dancers- find balance by increasing strength and proper alignment for safety. It is not all about flexibility. Strength, alignment and breathing matter too! In fact, today many professional dancers and professional dance education institutions require yoga and/or pilates as a part of their conditioning to stay strong, flexible and injury-free.
Yoga is a technique to unite all aspects of the human being. Today’s world is full of distractions and lots of opportunities to disconnect from our own bodies, feelings, breath and even lose control of our thoughts. Yoga can help bring us back into the natural state of being that is inherent in all living things. It can also make you feel and look great!
Yoga can be for everyone, however, there are some considerations one should take. High blood pressure is a condition in which you will want to ask for modifications from your instructor. Pregnant women can practice Yoga but need modifications in many of the postures. If you think you have a condition that would make you ineligible for Yoga, ask your doctor first if it is ok to practice. If your doctor says Yoga is ok, then ask your Yoga instructor for some tips to help you feel successful in class. Most teachers have modifications for the poses and would love to help you practice.