This morning I got up and went to a neighborhood yoga group. I’ve been doing yoga regularly for about a year now, and it has helped and inspired me to not only take better care of my body, but to appreciate it more.
For someone who has never done yoga, the exercise may sound weird and a little silly. (Probably because the media has done a good job of stereotyping it that way.) However, I think yoga is something everyone should try, because of the following:
- It’s inexpensive. All you need is some comfy clothes. A yoga mat is very helpful, but not required. I got mine about a year ago for about $12 on Amazon, and it’s still holding up to moderate use. There are some great yoga classes on YouTube, as well as a plethora of soothing soundtracks. You can also go for a nice mat, straps, bolsters, and blocks, or a membership at a yoga studio, but it’s not imperative.
- Everyone can do it. Yes. Everyone. Even if you’re in a wheelchair or extremely out of shape, there are types of yoga that involves only sitting or only the breath. When it’s taught at their level, kids love it. I’m sure there are as many kinds of yoga as there are instructors–fast, slow, hot, lukewarm, strengthening, stretching, calming, invigorating. If you promise not to be intimidated, check out this video of one yogi taking it at his level (expert).
- Lots of benefits, without the risks. Running is excellent exercise, but it can cause knee problems. In fact, most sports can result in serious injury. That’s not to say they shouldn’t be done, but if your primary goal is to get some exercise, yoga is a pain-free, gain-full way to get it. Yoga offers strength, flexibility, balance, and for quicker practices like ashtanga yoga, even cardio.
- It promotes whole-person health. Yoga is helpful for maintaining mental and emotional health. The relaxation exercises and positive self-viewing that are a part of yoga are excellent for preventing and alleviating depression and anxiety, as well as increasing gratitude and contentment.
- It’s fun! Not everyone agrees with this last point, but I like yoga because it is challenging, it feels good, and I enjoy doing it with others. I like getting away from the competition and “slimmer is better” attitudes of other exercise forms. There are days I have rolled out of bed onto my mat when I wouldn’t have been willing to hit the pavement, since I love it that much.
I hope I’ve convinced you that yoga is worth a try. It’s an exercise form and a philosophy that has been around for thousands of years, and I’m certainly glad I’ve stumbled upon it. I’m going to keep going to the neighborhood group, and maybe learn to do the splits and an unsupported handstand this summer! I’ll let you know how it goes.