Guest Author - Martha McKinnon
Are you curious about yoga? Are you confused or intimidated about how to begin?
You are not alone. I often meet people who are hesitant to try because it looks too hard or strange. I want to help change their perceptions and demystify yoga.
Yoga is for everyone. There are postures for every age and ability. You never have to twist yourself into a pretzel unless you want to. It’s important to remember that hatha yoga was originally taught to young Indian boys--teenagers who usually weighed less than 100 pounds-- so we shouldn’t be surprised if we never are able to execute some of the more advanced physical postures.
Answers to Some Common Beginning Yoga Questions
What Is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient health and fitness philosophy designed to help bring your body, mind, and spirit into balance. It's a true body-mind approach to health and wellness that originated in India more than five thousand years ago. Hatha yoga, which focuses on the practice of physical exercise to bring balance, strength, and flexibility to the body and mind, is the most common form of yoga practiced here in the west.
Is Yoga A Religion?
Yoga is not a religion. It can support and complement the faith of all religious traditions. There are Yoga enthusiasts who are practicing Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, and Muslims.
What are the Benefits of Yoga?
The list of yoga benefits is long. Here are some of the most common. Yoga:
* Promotes mental clarity, concentration, and focus
* Elevates mood and sense of well-being
* Alleviates stress and its symptoms
* Increases flexibility and strength
* Improves balance and posture
* Eases pain
* Encourages weight loss
* Cultivates patience and compassion
What Type of Yoga Should I Practice?
There are many types of yoga being taught today. The type of yoga that is best for you will depend on many things including:
• Your reason for practicing
• The benefits you seek
• Your age
• Your current fitness level
• Your existing health concerns
• Your exercise style
Some types of yoga, such as Iyengar are very detail-oriented and slow; others such as flow or Ashtanga are very physical and/or fast-paced. While some forms of yoga are better suited to healthy athletes, others are more amenable to modification for mature adults and/or those with health issues.
Do a little research to learn about the different types of yoga being taught in your area. In addition to yoga studios, you may find yoga classes offered in gyms, health clubs, community centers, senior centers, community colleges, and churches. And remember to check with your doctor or health care provider before starting a yoga practice, especially if you have health concerns.