September is NATIONAL YOGA MONTH. You have three days left to get to your yoga mat and start experiencing the benefits yoga can bring to the body and mind. These benefits include improved flexibility, overall wellness, and injury prevention. Quite honestly, YOU NEED YOGA.
Why do you need yoga? There are multiple answers to this question.
1) Our individual postural habits and movement patterns can contribute to lack of mobility, poor alignment in the shoulders and hips, and/or a weak core. Whether you sit at a desk or work on your feet, you probably need to improve your body awareness – strengthening weak areas and supporting/rehabbing areas of overuse. Yoga can create a more balanced body. Yoga poses (Asanas) are designed to help release muscular/joint tension, strengthen the core, and counter natural deficiencies (overuse, dysfunction, etc.).
2) Yoga means union (mind and body). This union is created via the breath. Centering and controlling the breath focuses the mind and helps your body breathe more efficiently when undergoing physical challenges. “Physical challenges” occur in all of our lives: running for the bus, playing with your kids, placing a suitcase in an airplane overhead compartment. In addition, breath work improves blood circulation and can increase your energy levels, concentration, and lung capacity.
3) Yoga and breath work (Pranayama) can give you a chance to disconnect. In this busy world, filled with endless technology and communication, we have little opportunity to enjoy stillness. For many of us, sitting still and staying focused/present is not possible or very uncomfortable. Studies show taking time to be still, to unplug or disconnect from the external and focus on the internal, can lower your blood pressure, reduce anxiety, sharpen the memory, balance the nervous system, and even strengthen the body’s immune system. (There are a TON of benefits for Pranayama and meditation. Look them up.)
So, WHY AREN’T YOU DOING YOGA? The most common answer: I am not flexible enough. Relief from inflexibilty requires work on stretching and releasing muscular tension (i.e. YOGA). You are flexible enough for yoga; like anything worth doing it just takes time. Just like learning how to bake a cake or drive a car, you have to practice. And “practice” means not giving up after your first yoga class. Every yoga pose is not identical on every person. A good instructor will teach you how to modify yoga poses to fit your body. Proper instruction can teach you how to make a difficult pose attainable and effective. Choose a level-appropriate class and be patient with yourself. Avoid comparing yourself to others…leave your ego at the door. Will there be things you can’t do? Probably, but that’s not the point. The point is to create change and to feel better.
How do you find a yoga class? When looking at local yoga offerings, assess your abilities. If you are somewhat familiar with yoga and in good health try a Beginner-Level 1 class and go from there. If you are totally new to yoga, look for a Basics or Intro style class. (Some studios even offer small group intro sessions that can provide the new student with one-on-one instruction.) Worried about your body type? Look for classes designed for your physique: Curvy Yoga, Every Body Yoga, Men’s Only Yoga, Yoga for Runners, etc. Once you find a class and an instructor you enjoy, give it time. You will not remember the names of the poses on your first day; allow yourself to be taught. No one expects yoga to be “perfect.” Do it for yourself.
Three days remain in National Yoga Month. If you can’t make it to a class in September, take a minute and plan a yoga date for yourself in October. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain. Namaste.