A few minutes devoted to this ancient practice can strengthen your body and mind
You may be someone—or know someone—who uses yoga to stay fit, active, and relaxed. It’s getting easier to practice all the time, with online videos and yoga studios popping up all over. A quick search online can lead you to a beginner’s class or workshop that fits just about any budget. But even spending 5 or 10 minutes sitting, breathing, and stretching is a great way to tap into some of the benefits of yoga. And September is a great time to start, since it’s National Yoga Awareness Month. Read on to learn a little more about why this practice has caught on and tips for how to integrate it into your routine.
What is yoga?
Thousands of years old, yoga is a practice that includes postures and breathing techniques (and sometimes visualization, chanting, and meditations) that stretch and strengthen the mind as well as the body. Depending on your fitness and health goals, there are various types of yoga to try, including Hatha (a series of poses to connect the body and mind), Vinyasa (an active practice that follows a specified, repeated sequence of postures), Yin (seated postures you hold for several minutes), and Kundalini (which includes meditation and chanting). Many people incorporate yoga into a holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle.
What are the health benefits of yoga?
- Reduces stress, anxiety and depression
- Increases circulation and oxygen, lowers blood pressure, and keeps your heart healthy
- Helps your flexibility
- Strengthens muscles
- Aids in weight loss and management
- Can lead to a sense of calm and peace
- Can ease fatigue, insomnia, and chronic pain
- Increases energy
- Improves posture
- Detoxifies the body
How can you celebrate Yoga Awareness Month?
Even if you’re a newcomer to yoga, start on a new path of fitness, self-discovery, and discipline. Here are a few suggestions:
- Take the plunge. If you've never unrolled a mat for a downward dog pose (like an inverted “V”), don’t be intimidated. Beginners are always welcome, and most yoga studios have mats and other equipment for you to use. If it makes your more comfortable, do some research online to learn the basics. Lots of studios offer a free class to new students.
- Experiment with your practice. If you practice once a week, try committing to a second class (or at least some additional time on your yoga mat) for the next few weeks. See what changes that can spark in how you feel.
- Bring a friend. Share your enthusiasm with a friend—maybe someone who’s never tried yoga. Invite them to take a class with you—it can take some of the awkwardness out of being a “newbie.” (Don’t worry—there is no “right way” to do yoga. It’s all just practice!)
- Treat yourself. Attend a local one-day festival where you can sample a wide variety of classes and instructors and meet new people in the process! Download an app so you can do yoga on the go, wherever and whenever fits your schedule.
This month is the perfect time to commit to getting started or try something new to deepen your practice. You might be amazed at the paths of fitness, wellness, and peace of mind that you can find along your yoga journey!
This article is part of the weekly blog of the Salter School. We offer several different professional training programs at our campuses in Malden and Fall River, MA. Reach out to us today for more information or to schedule a campus tour!