The Power of Poses
You see them everywhere. In downtown areas, strip malls, shopping plazas, YMCAs, fitness centers and athletic clubs. The yoga crowd either coming or going to class wearing their exercise gear and toting their rolled up, colorful yoga mats. The ancient practice of yoga that brings together body and mind has officially been a full-blown craze for some time now and has been elevated from niche status. Why the explosion now in this 5,000-year-old practice that uses breathing exercises, meditation and poses?
- Increases flexibility and improves balance, muscle tone and strength
- Improves breathing and lung function
- Helps with cardiovascular fitness, circulation health, lowering blood pressure and decreasing risk factors for heart disease
- Relieves arthritis, back and neck pain, carpal tunnel and headaches
- Helps with insomnia, sleeping more soundly and preventing fatigue
- Through its meditation and breathing, yoga can relax the mind, provide a calming atmosphere and environment, improve concentration and sharpen mental clarity.
- Decreases anxiety, stress and depression by lowering hormone levels associated with those conditions
- Yoga can contribute to your overall general wellness by giving you more awareness about your physical activity, eating habits and living a healthier lifestyle.
Yoga exercises are varied. In addition to the handstands, push-ups, toe touches, side bends and squats, there is joint-friendly chair yoga (you don’t have leave your chair) or yoga that uses props like blankets, blocks (made from foam, cork, wood or other materials), straps or even a wall.
Perhaps the most important things to remember about yoga is that it’s inclusive and accessible. It can be done by all ages with any level of fitness or flexibility. Whether your goal is to be an advanced yogi or you’re just looking for class to soothe your muscles, yoga has instruction for all abilities and skill levels.
If you’re just starting, look for a beginner class that focuses on slow motion, simple poses and learning techniques. If you can’t get to a class, there are many apps, videos and yoga teaching tips out there that you can use from the comfort of your home. BayCare Fitness Centers have a variety of monthly classes to choose from.