by Jenn Cohen
We’ve all heard of yoga…but what is it really? As a Yoga Instructor, I have heard every excuse not to try it. Most reasons are out of fear or just not being well-informed. The last thing that a new participant wants is to be singled out in class for not being able to touch their toes, put their foot behind their head, or worse, they get hurt! Therefore, they don’t even try the class, and unfortunately miss out on the wonderful effects yoga has. I am here to calm your fears and inform you of the truth behind “Yoga.”
- You must be flexible and fit to do yoga. – People have told me they can’t do yoga because they are not flexible. If you think you’re not flexible, then you especially need yoga! It is those that are inexperienced and inflexible that actually make the most progress and see quicker results.
- You must be in good health to do yoga. – Although there are certain poses and certain styles of yoga that you should not do if you have specific health issues, an experienced teacher will make modification for you. Everyone can do yoga! Old, young, thin, heavy, even wheelchair-bound, amputees and the mentally & physically challenged can all benefit from a Yoga class designed to meet their needs.
- Yoga is a religion. – Yoga was developed in India over 5000 years ago, however it is not a form of Hindu. Some classes chant and use the Sanskrit words, and some don’t. If you don’t feel comfortable with this aspect of class, ask the instructor beforehand if they do this. There is a spiritual element to yoga and most instructors teach it in a way as respecting your body, the other people in class and the world around you. The beautiful thing about yoga is you make it your own.
So, what is Yoga?
Yoga is about balancing your body and your mind to improve your overall health. Yoga’s main focus is on breathing, which calms the nervous system and allows it work correctly. Proper breathing brings more oxygen to the cells. With proper movement, you are strengthening and stretching muscles to improve posture and to increase blood flow to the organs and tissues.
The foundation of yoga is “TO DO NO HARM.” Obviously, this means not harming other people, animals and our planet. And, it also means to do no harm to YOU. When you respect your body, eat healthy food, exercising and take time to relax you ARE practicing yoga.
Remember to respect yourself in the yoga studio, too. Listen to your body at all times: don’t try anything that may injure you, don’t be afraid to ask for help or embarrassed to use props or modifications. Yoga is not a competition. The more you enjoy practicing yoga, the more benefits you will get out of it!
Yoga can improve your overall health!
Many conditions and diseases that people suffer from are stress related. Stress can cause: high-blood pressure, ulcers, insomnia, headaches, diabetes, depression, heart disease/heart attacks, strokes, cancer, obesity, skin problems and fertility problems. The amazing thing is that all these problems are connected. Since yoga has an incredible effect on lowering stress levels, you can reduce or eliminate these problems and move towards health. However, when you don’t recognize stress or ignore it, you are moving away from health, towards disease.
Back pain – almost everyone has had it at some point. Unfortunately, some people live with it every day. Instead of relying on drugs, that only mask the pain, yoga is a wonderfully gentle and simple solution. Poor posture can cause continual pain. Repetitive motions with poor body mechanics can lead to an injury. In a yoga class, you move your body in all directions, as we are meant to move – flexion, extension, lateral flexion and rotation. This helps facilitate proper movement patterns and can prevent muscle strains or even serious injury. Yoga is also a perfect complement to any other exercise routine you have. Try adding in yoga today and see how you can improve your running, cycling, weight lifting or kickboxing.
Jenn Cohen is a resident of Port St. Lucie and a Certified Personal Trainer, and holds numerous certifications including Yoga, Pilates, Spinning, SilverSneakers and BumpFit Pregnancy Fitness. She has been in the fitness industry of over 10 years and currently teaches several yoga classes at the Port St. Lucie Civic Center as well as private consultations/sessions in the convenience of your home. Please call or e-mail for class details: (561) 309-4543 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special thanks to Treasure Coast Parenting magazine www.treasurecoastparenting.com for their assistance with this article.