Who is Yoga Really For?
Whenever I talk to people about yoga, I usually get very similar responses. Often times I hear people say that they don’t really enjoy yoga because they are not very flexible. Other people comment that they have bad knees, shoulders, wrists, you name it. Fortunately, there are several variations of yoga as well as modifications for yoga poses. There are also several yoga studios and teachers you can try out to find the perfect fit for you.
When I first started practicing yoga, I was really stiff. My body is naturally pretty flexible but in general I found even the beginner poses to be challenging. If you have a sedentary lifestyle such as an office job or drive a lot then your hamstrings and quadriceps tend to be really tight. Therefore, poses such as downward dog (link), lunge poses (link), or forward folds (link) might be really difficult. That is why it is important to always warm up the body at the start of your practice. This increases blood circulation throughout the body and helps to loosen up the muscles in order to prevent injury.
Yoga is for everyone!
I know this is a pretty broad statement and some might be thinking “I’ve tried yoga and I don’t like it.” Well in that case, maybe yoga is not for you. However, for those who are intrigued but also a little intimidated and think yoga is not for you, I say “of course it is!”
You do not have to be a professional yogi to practice yoga. If you have any limitations or injuries you can always let the instructor know and (s)he will offer modifications that suit your needs. Through consistent practice you will notice a lot of the poses becoming much easier to achieve. For me, I noticed significant improvements after three weeks of consistent practice. However, results will vary. There are some advanced poses that take years to achieve and others that take only a couple of days. You will never know unless you try.
“Never limit yourself from trying new things”
If you choose to practice yoga more frequently you will also notice several physical and mental benefits on your body.
Physical Benefits of Yoga
As with anything, in order to get better at it you have to practice. Overtime and with consistent practice, you will begin to notice the physical benefits of yoga. These include increased flexibility, muscle strength, and tone. Through breath management you will notice improved respiration and energy. The increased movement will improve cardio and circulatory health leading to overall improved athletic performance.
Mental Benefits of Yoga
Yoga is also beneficial in managing stress and alleviates its symptoms. Yoga helps the mind to relax because it requires the mind and body to work together as it transitions from pose to pose. The act of deep breathing signals the brain to relax and send a sense of calm throughout the body. This helps to alleviate pain as well as lower blood pressure and anxiety, which are major symptoms of distress on the body. This helps to create mental clarity and awareness. In turn, you will be able to better rationalize a situation. Moreover, yoga as a physical activity releases endorphins causing the mind to feel happier.
“When you honor your body, your body will honor you.”
Regardless of whether you choose to pursue yoga or any other physical activity, I recommend keeping the body moving. Our bodies are designed to move to help optimize circulation and organ function. Nevertheless, don’t let yoga intimidate you. There are so many benefits to the practice that make it worth trying. Be open with your instructor about your limitations and go at your own pace.