Did you know that the word yoga means “union”? The true goal of yoga, whichever way it is practiced, is to create harmony between the body and mind.
Yoga originated in India, but these days it is among the most common kinds of classes available in Canada to help improve your overall level of fitness. Yoga classes are offered in yoga studios, church basements and fitness centres, and there are sessions designed for every level of fitness and physical ability.
What are the benefits of yoga?
Yoga helps people from every walk of life deal with stress and have a richer emotional life. Here are some of the other things a yoga practice can do:
- Stimulate blood circulation, which increases your energy levels
- Increase stamina and improve cardiovascular health
- Improve balance, range of motion and flexibility
- Sculpt the body
- Promote better muscle tone and strength
- Relax muscle tension and improve joint mobility
- Improve the functioning of the respiratory, digestive and hormonal systems
- Help with high blood pressure
- Purify and cleanse the organs
- Increase fitness and endurance
- Reduce back, neck and joint pain
- Counter insomnia and symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression
- Improve concentration
- Cultivate equanimity and improve self-confidence
What is yoga exactly?
There are many forms of yoga: hatha, power, hot, prenatal and the list goes on. But a yoga class generally includes the following four elements:
- The practice of prescribed yoga postures. The poses, called “asanas” in the yoga biz, require balance and concentration. They help tone the body and stretch the muscles. They should all be practiced according to an individual’s physical abilities and limitations.
- Breathing exercises. Yoga without breathing properly is just stretching. Your yoga teacher will show you how to breathe to increase your energy and focus. Other breaths help calm the mind and relax the body.
- Relaxation. Doing yoga postures gradually eliminates the negative effects of stress and helps release tension. Almost every kind of yoga class ends with a guided relaxation session on the floor.
- Meditation. Practicing meditation, either sitting still or while doing postures, will help you develop the ability to concentrate and find peace of mind in any situation.
Is yoga for everyone?
All age groups, from children to seniors, can do yoga.
- People with arthritis or osteoporosis can also enjoy the benefits of yoga, as the poses are low-impact and improve range of motion and joint mobility.
- Yoga is also a great exercise to prepare for childbirth.
- If you’re still not sure, talk to your healthcare professional.
Do it anywhere, anytime
One of the greatest benefits of yoga is that it doesn’t require any bulky equipment.
- A yoga mat is easy to carry around, or you can even do it on a towel.
So, try a class or follow along with a CD at home, and you’ll see for yourself how great it feels. Namaste!