Unite Body and Mind With Yoga
Written by: Dr. Sam Von Reiche and Janel Abrahami
Ommmm. Have you been intrigued by the concept of yoga, but never had the oomph to get started? Read on to learn how to get Zen now.
Yoga is a powerful form of ancient exercise that combines strategic physical poses and mindful breathing to deliver remedies for countless ailments, including headaches, back pain, and stress. It can also be used as a complete physical therapy. The word “yoga” means “to unite” in Sanskrit, as it unites your body and your mind. While there are many yoga choices to explore, all share the same purpose of body and mind alignment. Below are brief descriptions of the most popular types:
· Bikram: Also known as “hot” yoga, this type of yoga is practiced in 105-degree rooms. Despite the heat, the poses are usually basic and good for beginners.
· Hatha: Gentle movements, slower pace, simple poses
· Vinyasa: Also known as “flow,” you move from pose to pose seamlessly. The poses you practice vary based on instructor, so sample some classes and decide which routine works for you.
· Kundalini: Focuses energy on the spine and really works your core. This type of practice may be too intense for beginners, but give it a shot if you are in good physical shape!
· Ashtanga: Also known as “power” yoga, this type really gets you moving and is a great alternative workout as well as meditation practice.
· Iyengar: This practice incorporates props to help achieve the best results. Expect straps, blocks, and cushions in an effort to provide some light physical therapy.
So how does it work? The postures and poses in different yoga practices help condition your body and move energy up and down your spine. As you engage in these movements, you must focus your mind on those specific parts of the body that you are physically working. Once you have learned to block out your mental “chatter” (which is certainly not easy!) you will be able to feel a deep sensation of mindfulness and relaxation.
How can you fit a yoga practice into your busy schedule? Because of yoga’s popularity, it is fairly simple to find the type you want offered at a location and time that works. Not only do yoga studios proliferate in almost every city and town, but free classes are usually offered at your local gym mornings, evenings, and weekends. There are also a wide variety of good yoga DVD’s to use at home, and you can even find very good instruction on Youtube! Doing some poses at home before your shower or after washing your face at night could be enough to center and relax you.
Because yoga routines can vary substantially, choosing a particular type to explore should be based on the goal you would like to accomplish. Are you looking for a little relaxation at the end of a tense day? Are you trying to mix up your regular workout routine? Or are you in need of some serious mind/body unification? Do you have a chronic pain issue which requires gentle stretching? Once you pinpoint what you would like to get out of yoga, you can:
1. Get your doc’s OK
2. Check out some classes
3. Discover DVDs and Books
4. Make realistic goals: You can’t expect to be a guru after a few sessions. If you are still stressed after striking some poses, don’t bail. Like any workout regimen, it takes time to see results. But the OMMM you feel will eventually be worth it!
If you are a yoga beginner, posing may feel kind of awkward at first. It is completely normal to lose your balance and feel silly with your hands above your head. Your confidence in your practice will only grow as you begin to master the poses. If you attend a yoga class, your instructor will be on hand to modify your stance as he or she sees fit, helping you to get the most out of each pose. Hang in there a few classes and you will notice yourself becoming stronger, more balanced, and maybe even happier! Namaste!