Yoga offers many benefits for the body, mind, and spirit. Yet many misconceptions prevail that prevent many people from participating and reaping these benefits.
One myth is that yoga is for very flexible people, the kind who can twist their body like a pretzel or a Cirque de Soleil performer. Yoga improves flexibility and most people never achieve pretzel flexibility- most don't want to!
Another myth is that yoga is easy and people may be looking for a more challenging work out. When you walk outside of your home or office in the summer and start sweating, would you consider that a good workout?
Sweat alone is not an indicator of intensity of exercise. Try holding a part of a pose for 3 minutes; hold your arms parallel to the ground with your shoulder blades in place, e.g. keeping your shoulders from inching toward your ears. Did you feel anything? There are many practices of yoga that dynamically strengthen your muscles and provide increased strength as well as increased flexibility.
The last myth to mention is that yoga is religion. To address this last myth in depth would potentially take days, create much debate that would end in a stale mate. I'd like to leave this myth alone and focus on the facts, as the practice of yoga was founded in spirituality, yet there is no religion discussed.
Practicing yoga is to honor and appreciate the beauty and wonder of our bodies and our surroundings. In my years working in some aspect of wellness, the piece of the well being puzzle that I see missing for so many is the spirituality piece and yoga helps you reconnect to your spiritual self.
Here are some facts about the practice of yoga.
From "Chakra Yoga" by Alan Finger:
Success in yoga is measured by how well you are living your life. Do you:
• have balance in life,
• have harmony in relations with others,
• experience unconditional love?
• Are you happy to just be alive?
“Yoga is a physical practice to realign and strengthen the body. It is a mental practice that incorporates breath work and meditation. A spiritual practice integrates the body and mind and reconnects you to your own perfection.
When you find balance it mends body, mind, and spirit.”
The practice of yoga has been well studied and is an ongoing topic of research. The benefits are amazing, when you practice and embrace a healthy lifestyle as well. The following are a few of the well documented benefits for yoga.
Quality of Life Benefits:
• Increased flexibility & strength.
• Improved posture.
• Increased energy.
• Decreased back pain.
• Improved mobility.
• Improved breathing.
• Increased concentration & focus.
• Reduced stress.
• Decreases anxiety & depression.
• Improved self-confidence and body image.
• Weight loss & weight maintenance.
• Reduced inflammation.
• Improved insulin sensitivity and reduced insulin resistance.
• Improved glycemic control.
• Improved Osteoarthritis.
• Improved Asthma.
• Effective strategy to promote healthy lifestyles (balanced diet and moderate intensity exercise) in post menopausal women; prevent aging induce oxidative stress-related disease.
• Overall, improved physical, mental, intellectual, & spiritual well-being.