Foundations of Yoga
When I first started practicing yoga 10+ years ago, I did it more for the challenge to push myself physically through strength and balance poses. I incorporated it into my workouts when it was convenient but I wasn't very consistent. As I continued to do yoga and eventually teach classes, I realized how much I needed yoga and it soon became a staple in my workouts. Whether I was training for endurance races (half marathon and triathlon), building muscle through heavy weight lifting, or relieving aches and pains through pregnancy, I've come to love the benefits of yoga in all different stages. My body feels better and my mind is calmer when I practice deep breathing and focus on being in the moment in an almost meditative state. I've also enjoyed learning about the history of yoga, here's a little information to prove it's long time influence throughout the world:
Yoga practices or disciplines began in ancient India and was introduced to the west in the early 20th century. By the 1980’s, yoga became very popular and was being recognized as more of a physical exercise than just a spiritual or meditative practice. Yoga is used in many different exercises, whether acknowledged as actual ‘yoga’ or not, it’s practices are benefiting athletes, runners, therapy patients, young children, and adolescents.
Benefits of yoga:
- Deep breathing energizes body and clears the mind (consider doing before studying for a school test or homework, presentation, before a performance or game, job interview, etc.
- Being in the moment, removing distractions and frustrations. Being mindful and present has proven stress relieving benefits. We cannot live in the future or the past, only the present.
- Meditate on a positive goal as you breathe in (faith) and breathe out what you want to let go of (fear) – or other words/short phrases/goals (peace + stress, hope + hurt, love + hate).
- Flexibility + Strength: injury prevention, helps you keep doing what you love doing!
Whenever practicing yoga, always pay attention to your form and never strain to do a pose that you cannot safely do if you are limited by strength or flexibility. Follow instruction from a certified professional before trying new and challenging poses. Being patient and practicing regularly will ensure the most benefits. There are many different styles of yoga so don't give up after one try!