When many people think of yoga, they might think of young women wearing expensive yoga attire in a studio with uniformly placed mats and perfect postures. It has a reputation for a being a spiritual exercise that twists flexible hippies and tree-huggers into pretzels. This mindset of yoga is inaccurate because, in reality, yoga is an activity for people of all ages, genders, sizes and levels of flexibility.
Some people think that their lack of flexibility immediately disqualifies them from yoga. Just like any other form of exercise, the more you practice the further you get. No one runs a 26 mile marathon without training first, and same goes for yoga. Anyone new at yoga should not expect themselves to be flexible immediately. Yoga is about feeling good and the golden rule is this: If it hurts, stop.
A wonderful aspect of yoga is that it can be done anywhere at any time. A studio and mat can be helpful, but they are absolutely not necessary. Money is not imperative for yoga. Do yoga outside on the grass or on the carpet in the living room. Also, there are many places that offer free yoga classes! It just takes a little bit of research to find them. As long as your body is in a comfortable and painless state, then yoga can be done right then and there. Stretch, breathe, relax and let go. Even 10 minutes a day can transform an entire week into something a little less stressful.
Yoga is a blend of both mental and physical exercise. According to “The Health Benefits of Yoga and Exercise: A Review of Comparison Studies” from The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, research has shown that yoga is more beneficial than typical exercise in areas of balance, quality of life, sleep disturbance, and social and occupational functioning.
“Yoga has been shown to be effective in relieving symptoms of mental illness including depression, anxiety, obsessive–compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia,” the article also stated.
Although yoga is something that may seem a little different or foreign, do not be afraid to give it a try. It might be a good way to break a sweat, practice flexibility, mentally let go, or meet some radical people. No matter what the outcome, yoga is valuable to each participant’s health in a different way. It is an activity that encourages everyone to come just as they are and enjoy a personal connection between the body and mind.