what is yoga?
Yoga is a complete form of exercise that strengthens your entire body, improves your flexibility, develops balance, improves circulation, and reduces stress. It's an excellent complement to any athletic sport, helping to prevent injuries and establish greater stability and range of motion. It helps heal past injuries and it provides the best way to practice preventative care and enhance overall well-being. Yoga calms the mind, improves concentration, steadies the emotions, and opens the heart to feeling fully alive.
For thousands of years people have practiced yoga. Yoga unites different parts of ourselves - our body, the mind and the spirit that drives us. Yoga balances and integrates us, assuring we are physically healthy, mentally clear and strong, and spiritual connected. Our world is one of duality. Yoga is a systematic technology that brings balance to the body's systems and to the mind, so we can handle what emerges in life. There are many forms of yoga (such as devotion or service), but the western practice tends to be hatha yoga, focused more on the physical body. (Kundalini Yoga moves beyond this practice into more depth of yoga's offerings.)
Yoga's postures or poses give us the chance to stretch, twist, balance, strengthen and concentrate, as we breathe and relax. Yoga also requires an aware and focused mind. With consistent practice, you notice where you are strong and weaker, where you are tense and can relax. You see benefits emerge including: reduced stress, increased body awareness, more balanced body systems (e.g., metabolism or blood pressure), relief from aches and tension, flexibility and strength. Immunity also increases as the nervous system is supported by the movement of energy in the body. This movement of energy is why yoga works!
Leave all stereotypes behind! Anyone can practice yoga. The idea that you must balance on one arm, or be very flexible or strong to practice yoga is false. (That is the point of yoga - to increase balance, flexibility and strength.) Yoga is for babies and seniors and everyone in between. It is also not a religion, but a physical practice that can provide a spiritual experience. Anyone of any religion can practice yoga and gain immense benefits. It is non-competive and supportive, and you should be safe, comfortable and relaxed in class. As you learn more, you find a pace that suits your practice, and that pace should be honored. Welcome - come experience it yourself.
The benefits of yoga vary depending on how often you practice:
1-2 classes per week - Reduces stress; modest improvement in flexibility and balance; modest improvement in breathing; modest postural improvement; better sleep; safe exploration of recent injuries.
3-4 classes per week- All of the above, plus significant increase in strength, flexibility and balance; increased energy; better posture; improved circulation and skin; improved breathing; stronger immune system; improved mood; improved attention, concentration and memory; improved overall sense of well being.
5-7 classes per week - All of the above, plus greater endurance and energy; structural body reintegration; profoundly enhanced mental clarity and emotional stability; profound inner awareness and improved sense of overall well-being.
(Benefits shared here, compliments of Dharma Tribe)