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Thursday, May 20, 2010

5 Reasons I love yoga

Yoga has definitely been an acquired taste for me. I didn't like it right away. It was so different from anything else I did in my life. It was slow. It was quiet. It kind of didn't seem like I was doing anything at all... Several years ago, I was asked to teach a Senior yoga class at the gym where I taught. I slowly came to appreciate that quiet time, where we would turn out the lights and focus on how our bodies felt.

Now, I do yoga almost every day and I love it. Below are 5 reasons why.

1. You can do it anytime of day. Maybe you're thinking you can do any workout any time of day... but it's not true. If you do cardio, or even heavy weightlifting in the middle of the day, you're going to have to take a shower afterward (you know you're not fooling anyone with that perfume shower), which means an added half hour at least to get all ready again. If you workout at night, it can make it hard to fall asleep. Cardio and weightlifting raise your core temperature, making you feel hot. That can also make it hard to sleep. Yoga, on the other hand, can help you wake up in the morning. It can help you relax before bedtime. It can also be done mid-day, with no shower necessary.

2. Yoga is everything I want for my old age. Yoga helps keeps you flexible. Your posture is straight and tall. You keep the joints lubricated and able to move. Isn't that what we all want when we are old? Mobility, flexibility and good posture? When I taught the Senior classes at the gym, I had a woman who would come diligently to the aerobics class, but never to the yoga. She once told me that she was having trouble turning her neck and it made it hard to drive, since she couldn't see over her shoulder. Another woman overheard, and said she didn't have that problem, because we always stretched our necks in yoga. Yoga also tones the muscles, keeping you strong and fit.

3. Yoga helps you calm the mind. That is important for everyone from students to stay at home moms to busy professionals. Taking deep breaths really helps you to slow down the mind. I don't know about you, but sometimes my mind is a never ending to do list. Yoga is a time when I can finally set that list down and feel really peaceful.

4. Yoga is for everyone. Yoga doesn't take a lot of equipment. All you need is a sticky mat, and maybe a yoga brick or strap. It can be done in your home with a DVD or even just going through the poses on your own. My two year old came and joined me on the mat today while I was doing yoga. He was able to do a pretty decent downward facing dog. I guess that shouldn't be too surprising, because babies seem to naturally do many yoga poses as they become more active. Elderly or injured people can also benefit from modified yoga. It truly is an exercise for every body.

5. Yoga helps you set goals. You can always improve with yoga. It is a constant state of progressing--you can always progress to the next level of intensity. And yet, yoga focuses on doing what your body feels comfortable with today. There isn't the pressure to keep up with anyone else. Instead, it's an inside drive, to listen to and understand your body, and to work with your body to get to the next level.

If you haven't tried yoga before, I'd encourage you to get out there and give it a try. Check out a Yoga DVD or book from the library, or better yet, take a class at a local studio.

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