The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yuj which means “yoke” or “union”. The goal of yoga is to link body and mind, movement to breath in order to create a moving meditation. When one practices yoga, it is the intent to quiet the mind, create a long fluid breath and allow the muscles and connective tissue to release. The most common misconception is that you must be flexible in order to practice yoga. That’s totally untrue-EVERYONE can do some form of yoga!
There are eight limbs of yoga and numerous types of yoga within each branch. Hatha and Restorative being the most gentle, often using straps and blocks to help with alignment and modifications within the asanas, or poses. Flow, Vinyasa and Power are generally moderate to vigorous forms of yoga, but again can be modified to suit most everyone. If you are new to yoga, or uncertain about a class, speak with the instructor- they love to answer questions about yoga and will be happy to help you with any assistance you might need to enjoy a personal yoga practice. And always, let your instructor know about any health concerns, problems or, pregnancy.
So how do we get the mind body connection through yoga?
Asana practice challenges the body to force the mind cease chitta vritti, the Sanskrit word meaning monkey mind or mental chatter. Moving through the asanaswe link movement with breath such as raising the arms overhead on the inhale, and folding forward as you exhale. Rhythmic movement and breath allow the body to relax, open more and create space. After attending a yoga class, people describe themselves as feeling better in some way. It’s common to feel relaxed, clear headed, less stressed, happy and your body feels “looser”.
The health benefits from practicing yoga are numerous. Yoga has been proven to reduce stress, tension and anxiety. It can help reduce blood pressure, tone muscles and build bone density through weight bearing poses. Regular practice will increase energy, stamina, improve balance as well as increase flexibility over time. Every practice ends with savasana, a restful period within a meditative state that is created through the yoga practice. A recent Harvard study showed that meditation also has incredible health benefits! Volunteers practiced twenty minutes of meditation daily for eight weeks. The results were boosted immune response, energy metabolism and insulin secretion and a decrease in stress and inflammation. Just sitting quietly and breathing deeply for ten minutes a day will have great overall health benefits.
This month we have two special yoga workshops on the Phys Ed Programming Calendar, Chakra Yoga on Saturday, June 21st at 11:30am and Detox Yoga Flow on Tuesday, June 24th at 7pm. Chakra Yoga will be an informative class based on balancing the seven chakras, or energy centers of the body. In this fun flow, will learn the locations and functions of each Chakra and how to correct imbalances. If you are curious about the deeper aspects of yoga, this is the class for you. Back by popular demand is Detox Yoga Flow, which nourished the body from the inside out. This vinyasa flow is full of twists, backbends and hip openers to wring the organs and sweat out toxins with a refreshing detox water served at the end, both programs are open to members and non members.