Since Yoga was introduced to the west at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, it has recognized a boom of popularity around the globe. Yoga finds its roots in India, and is believed to have come into existence sometime between 6th and 5thcentury B.C. Yoga really started to catch on in the United States over the last 25 years. Just to give you an idea of how popular yoga has become, just Googling the word will return over 894 million results! This is precisely why yoga can seem so daunting to learn more about if you are new to it! Don’t be dissuaded! The benefits of yoga make the research worth it!
Like most things in the world of health and wellness, you can get ten different answers to the same question, just by asking ten different people! What does a health-conscious consumer need to know? The American Osteopathic Association (the organization that represents Doctors of Osteopath) suggests that maintaining a regular yoga practice can provide both physical and mental health benefits.
Some of the physical benefits of yoga:
-Lessen chronic pain
-Increase muscle strength and tone
-Improve your ability to breathe
-Greater energy levels
-Help in maintaining a balanced metabolism
-Improve cardio and circulatory health
-Improved athletic performance
-Protection from injury for everyone, including athletes
Mental benefits of yoga:
-Helps to manage stress, which can have devastating effects on both the physical body and mind.
-Meditation and breathing exercises can help improve a person’s sense of well-being
-Offer mental clarity and calmness
There are many different types of yoga out there, with new variations and sub-specialties popping up all the time. You might hear terms like Hatha, Bikram, Vinyasa, Iyengar, etc., but don’t let that scare you. Whether you want a physically demanding class, an easy, restorative experience, or a mindfulness and meditative class, with a little looking around, you’ll be sure to find what you’re looking for. Most yoga classes (unless otherwise specified) will typically include breathing exercises, meditation, physical postures (sometimes called asana or poses) that stretch and strengthen various muscle groups.
As with any new exercise program, always consult your physician or healthcare provider before beginning. Start by looking for a beginner’s class, and if your apprehensive about going alone, invite a friend. Be sure to send the studio you’re interested in a message on social media, or reach out to the teacher via the studio website. Most yoga teachers are thrilled to discuss the type of yoga the are trained in and direct you in the right direction, even if it’s not with them or at their studio. Be sure to share any health concerns or conditions you have with your instructor, work within your own limits, and have fun. Remember, wellness is a journey. Be patient with yourself and enjoy your journey!