This week I did yoga every day for 7 days!
I’m not completely new to yoga, but neither do I have anywhere near a “regular practice”… so this week I decided to give myself a “yoga kickstart” so to speak. Before this week I’ve taken a total of 4-5 yoga classes in the last 5 years and I’ve done some sun salutations from a yoga book Remy has. I may know my way around a yoga mat a little bit, but I know very few poses and only one sequence. I love the idea of yoga and I’ve always wanted to learn more, so this week I did yoga and learned about yoga each and every day. One week of yoga has already increased my confidence, decreased my anxiety, and inspired me to do more yoga!
It was definitely a new PHYSICAL experience for me! I went to two classes and did the other 5 days at home. I loved the classes, but they can’t always be worked into my schedule, and they cost money. Luckily the studio two blocks from my house offers a number of donation yoga classes where you can pay what you can. I also used the Daily Burn yoga workout for an hour 2 of the days. Both of those 60 minute sessions were estimated to burn around 300 calories! The other three days I only did yoga for 15-30 minutes, and even these short sessions left me feeling better afterward.
Most people this of yoga as passive stretching, something to do to warm up for exercise, but it is so much more than that! Yoga can BE exercise, as well as stress relief. Yoga is exercise because it takes an incredible amount of balance and muscle tension to hold yoga poses with correct posture. Some poses also require an intense amount of balance!
(Cannot do this… yet 😉
The other way yoga is more than just stretching involves the breathing. Yoga sequences are best paired with careful and deep breathing, from low in the belly; much like you do when you relax! Imagine doing something psychically challenging while still trying to keep your breath steady and you’ll begin to understand the true practice of yoga.
The practice of yoga is not religious, but it CAN be spiritual, if you want it to. Many yoga studios in the U.S. have removed most or all of the spirituality so that people of all religions and backgrounds can feel comfortable attending. Yoga was rejected for many years in the U.S. because people saw it as religious and “weird,” but recent research has done a lot to promote yoga for everybody! Even the American Osteopathic Association is on board, stating:
“The relaxation techniques incorporated in yoga can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome,” explains Dr. Nevins, a board-certified osteopathic family physician and certified Kundalini Yoga instructor. “Yoga can also lower blood pressure and reduce insomnia.”
According to Dr. Nevins, other physical benefits include:
Increased muscle strength and tone
Improved respiration, energy and vitality
The maintenance of a balanced metabolism
Cardio and circulatory health
Improved athletic performance
Protection from injury
Aside from the array of physical benefits, one of the best benefits of yoga is how it helps a person manage stress, which has been known to have devastating effects on the body and mind. “Stress can reveal itself in many ways, including back or neck pain, sleeping problems, headaches, drug abuse, and an inability to concentrate,” says Dr. Nevins. “Yoga can be very effective in developing coping skills and reaching a more positive outlook on life.”
The Huffington Post article on yoga quotes some heavy hitters in the world of research, including Harvard University, University of Oslo, Norway, and University of Washington. According to these and others, yoga can boost your immunity and sexual performance, ease your migraines, help you sleep better, and fight your food cravings, but you’ll never know if it’s true until you try!
As you can tell, my week of yoga has also inspired my desire to learn about it! I’ll leave it at saying I feel great, and I already feel my body becoming more flexible and steady after one week! Who knows what a few more weeks will do! My next post about yoga will sure to include more of what I’ve learned! Look for my next post later this week!
Do you do yoga? Do you hate yoga with a fiery passion? What benefits or downsides do you see to it? Post questions or comments below!