Yoga is an incredible exercise for both the body and the mind. It’s an activity that most anyone with any athletic skill level can perform to the standards of their own bodies capabilities. And it’s becoming ever-more popular in today’s modern world. And it’s prevalent for a reason: all research points to Yoga as being an excellent activity for both mind and body health.
I’ve never done Yoga—What is it?
Yoga’s foundation is built on three principles: Poses, Breathing, and Meditation/Relaxation. Poses are a series of postures that are designed to increase bodily strength and flexibility in the muscle and joint groups to which each posture is designed for (for example, there are postures to strengthen the hips, the back, the chest, the shoulders, the quads, etc.) These postures range in exertion level from the most basic to the most demanding. The difference in the types of yoga is often found in the style in which the Yoga is performed, and the style, here, just means the way in which the person doing Yoga advances between the various postures. This is also where breath comes into play, and breath, in a Yoga class, means a controlled breathing that keeps the body and mind calm. The more strenuous the class (Vinyasa Yoga classes tend to be faster-paced, more continuous movement.) the more challenging to keep the body and mind calm with breath.
The health benefits of Yoga (There’s many!)
Yoga, like any exercise, is good for the body. It’s good for the mind, helping to keep our minds free, or at least less bogged-down, of stress and anxiety. And improved flexibility and muscle strength has its obvious benefits.
There are numerous Yoga gyms, Yoga classes inside the YMCA, even city-wide programs geared for adults. The best part about Yoga, however, is that there isn’t any equipment needed except for a Yoga mat. It’s a rolled-up home gym that takes up little to no space. If you don’t feel like attending a class right away, there are numerous online sources that allow you to learn the poses, then follow-along in a Yoga course from the comfort of your own Yoga mat in your own living room.