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You, Yoga, and Your Fitness

If you haven’t actually participated yet, you’ve probably heard or seen something about Yoga as it’s popularity in Western culture has skyrocketed in recent years.  I thought it would be fun to talk a little about the origins of yoga and why it might enhance your health and fitness regime.  Yoga is an ancient practice with origins beginning back thousands of years. It is designed to help with focus, peace, and serenity. The word ‘yoga’ itself means ‘union’ and ‘union of the mind, body, and spirit.  Of the many choices available, there are those that focus on the athleticism with extremely fit people putting their legs behind their heads and curling up into awkward and difficult positions. There are also those which focus mostly on breathing and relaxation, and there is also everything in between those extremes.

Yoga has much more to offer than flexibility and the idea of obtaining a strong body. People of all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities can do yoga and adapt it to suit their individual tastes and needs – and this is one of the reasons why so many people (including myself) LOVE yoga!

If you think yoga isn’t for you, maybe it’s time to reconsider.

Here are several reasons why you should start doing yoga as soon as possible!

1. It’s an incredible workout for your mind, body, and soul.

Yoga is a fantastic workout for your body. You can adapt the practices to your own speed and level of comfort. No matter which yoga exercises you choose, the practices will always be part of a great workout routine.

2. Get in touch with your body.

Yoga stretches and exercises are designed around the idea of moving your body to increase its strength, flexibility, and durability. Doing yoga on a regular basis will get you more in tune with your body and know when something is really working and when it isn’t.

3. Improve your breathing technique.

Key to yoga practice are the breathing exercises which are incorporated into positions as well as on their own. The exercises encourage a focused and centered way of breathing, and eventually you’ll subconsciously learn to breath more deeply throughout the day.   These deliberate breathing techniques are a wonderful  stress-management tool and generally make you feel much better.

4. Improve your sleep.

Another benefit is that doing yoga can actually help you get better sleep.  You might even consider doing an after-work class since studies have shown that doing some light physical activity before our heads hit the hay can help us get off to sleep more quickly, which usually leads to a much better quality of sleep.

5. Improve your posture.

Yoga is effective at helping you develop proper posture, since a lot of the breathing and seated positions require a straight back for proper effect. Good posture is definitely going to develop during yoga practice.

6. Improve both physical and mental strength.

Yoga can also help you develop amazing mental and physical strength. The point of yoga is total body/mind awareness which can help you become more focused and present in your relationships and work.  The physical investment in the stretches and positions ensures that you’ll experience plenty of physical strength benefits as a result.

The breathing exercises can improve your lung capacity, and lunges and stretches can increase your core strength as well as every muscle you can think of. Yoga exercises force you to focus on the moment.

7. Yoga can enhance your meditation practice.

Meditation could be defined as focused awareness or reflection. The purpose of yoga isn’t necessarily to achieve every complicated pose under the sun, but to do your yoga practice with focus and thought.  When you apply this type of focused awareness in your yoga practice, it can become an opportunity to meditate on deeper things like spiritual principles that are meaningful to you.

Yoga can truly improve the  quality of your life by allowing time for  your mind, in union with your body, to process the complexities of life.

The practice make you feel less scattered, more focused, and even more aware of the positive events and feelings you might otherwise miss when your life gets too chaotic.

Incorporating yoga into your daily life is a great investment in yourself – you will be grateful you did.

To your best health and fitness . . .

Have a great skinny day!

About Crystal Dwyer Hansen
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