Happy National Yoga month! This means it’s time to embrace your practice on and off the mat, and if you’ve never tried yoga, to give it a go! The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word “yui”, meaning to yoke or unite. So you wonder, yoke or unite what? Mind, body and spirit are brought together bringing about a balance that nourishes the whole being. The practice of physical exercises, known as asanas, breath work, known as pranayama, and meditation are melded together creating a strong, yet gentle approach to our highest well-being.
If I could impart a single message regarding yoga it would be that yoga is for EVERYONE. The misconception that yoga is only for young, very fit, flexible students is absolutely incorrect. Over the years I have had many students with limited range of motion due to illness or injury, ages ranging from toddler to 82 years, as well as professional dancers and bodybuilders. Each person brings their own difficulties to the mat, and is given the opportunity to practice within their limits. Yoga can benefit all ages and ability levels. It teaches children constructive channeling of all that beautiful energy, community, kindness and tolerance. It can help people effectively manage many different health problems from diabetes to cancer and can enhance the effectiveness of medical treatments. Yoga helps you cultivate a stronger body, renewed confidence, and a serene mind as well as improves balance, bone density, breathing capacity, and longevity with low-impact physical practice. And lastly, yoga can help you to embrace your own strengths and to release physical and mental tensions in a safe, positive environment with no competition, only empowerment and community.
So, don’t worry about your issues. If you are not flexible, no problem. If you have never taken yoga before, don’t worry. You will be guided carefully to your own best ability. Are you worried about how you will look as you fumble through your first class? Don’t be, everyone is occupied with their form to notice yours. You can’t do a headstand? It’s ok, you don’t have to! You have a hard time sitting still, how will you ever meditate? After your physical practice it will be easier to be still and you will quickly be lulled to that place of serenity through very simple and effective breathing practices.
Yoga is a beautiful, safe place to “start where you are” and progress as you are ready. Let your journey begin today!
By: Karen Weimer, Certified Yoga Instructor, Group Exercise Instructor at Valley Health Wellness & Fitness Center
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