Yoga: Have You Tried Yoga?

Strengthen Your Body, Increase Flexibility and Increase Muscle Endurance

By PEERtrainer Health and Fitness Team
With the advent of WiiFit yoga and yoga classes and centers popping up all over the U.S., one might be inclined to think that nothing more than the newest fitness fad. But the truth is that yoga, as part of a holistic system for body and spiritual health, has been around for centuries. The practice of yoga strengthens the body, increases flexibility, and increases muscular strength and endurance; all while increasing oxygen flow and decreasing stress. So, have YOU tried yoga? If not, what are you waiting for?

What we know as ‘yoga’ in America is actually a part of the larger yoga system, a holistic lifestyle that encompasses diet, exercise, lifestyle and spiritual practices. The yoga classes we are familiar with are actually practicing ‘asana’, which is the practice of specific physical postures. These postures aim to strengthen the body while increasing flexibility.

Are you flexible "enough"?  The answer is yes.

If you haven’t tried yoga because you have concerns that you aren’t ‘flexible enough’ or not in good enough physical condition, never fear. While a yoga workout certainly can be intense, one of the terrific aspects of the practice is that it is always tailored to the individual. A pose, or posture, is a specific body position that you enter into and hold while engaging in deep breathing. Poses are goals to work towards but your instructor will encourage you to modify them to your individual comfort. For example, while engaging in a ‘Sun Salutation’ pose, the goal is to be able to grab the toes while bending at the waist. In the beginning, you may only be able to reach your ankles, or even your knees, and that’s okay. You will be surprised at how quickly your flexibility, strength and balance will improve and furthermore, you will begin to feel the effects of yoga’s calming and stress relieving components immediately. Furthermore, you do not have to adopt a heavy workout schedule to see results. In fact, Cyndi Lee, yoga teacher, author and owner of Om Studio in New York City, states that, “Yoga is amazing–even if you only practice for one hour a week you will experience the benefits of the practice. If you can do more than that, you will certainly experience more benefits.

Reap The Benefits.
If you are a ‘fitness nut’ and already in great shape, you can still reap the many benefits of adding yoga to your fitness routine. Consider checking out a ‘power yoga’ class to really challenge yourself. Power yoga is a Westernized version of Ashtanga yoga, and was designed more as an approach to increased fitness than a lifestyle, or meditative practice. During a power yoga workout, you will first gently warm up the muscles then jump into an extremely challenging and fast-paced routine of difficult poses that require a good deal of strength to execute. The quickened pace adds a cardiovascular component to the workout.

Deep breathing accompanies all yoga practice, and with it the benefits of increased oxygen. Yoga has been shown to decrease blood pressure, reduce mental stress, relax and strengthen muscles and more. Yoga is a perfect low-impact workout that anyone can benefit from. So what are you waiting for? Go check out your local yoga studio or try out a DVD. You might be pleasantly surprised at how good you’ll feel.

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