Admittedly, when meeting friends and chatting about active hobbies, “doing Yoga” does not sound as impressive as “training for a marathon” or “lifting weights” but it does make you extremely fit… and healthy and happy and relaxed… And you can start at every age, keep finding new challenges and continue improving for as long as you live.
So, what is Yoga?
Yoga can be translated from Sanskrit as “union” and builds upon the belief that body and breath are intimately connected with the mind.
So, the physical exercises are only one aspect of an entire philosophy which goes far beyond “getting bendy” and “good performance”.
Yoga actually touches the very core of our existence: how should we live, how can we tap into our innate talents and positive energy, how can we connect to both – our own body and soul and to the big world out there.
And what I like most about it: Yoga is the most comprehensive approach to your own mental and physical health and holds all the promises and wisdom-inducing challenges of a desirable life-long journey. – Yoga practice is not about pushing beyond limits, thriving for perfection or competitive comparison to others. It’s all about YOU and how you can work towards experiencing more benefits from your practice.
What can Yoga do for YOU?
Improve your Health – Get more energy and reduce stress
Regular practice will reduce the release of the stress hormone cortisol, so you can relax and your body has the opportunity to regenerate. This is of special interest to people who have the genetical predisposition to develop or already suffer from diabetes or high blood pressure, insomnia, anxiety disorder etc.
The improved circulation, more efficient transport of oxygen and other nutrients also result in better brain function, hormonal balance and a more efficient organ function. This will make you feel more energetic and “switched on”.
Get rid of waste products – Detox your body
Over many years and decades toxins from our environment, food etc. build up in our tissues and eventually interfere with the normal function of our metabolism, organs, hormones, immune system and so forth.
A too high level of acidity and waste products in our body will eventually contribute to the development of more or less severe health issues (cellulitis, bowel problems, migraines, arthritis, osteoporosis etc.) – The asanas and controlled breathing of Yoga sessions support the elimination of those toxins from our body and bring it back into a healthier, more natural state.
Strengthen your muscles – More stability, less flab
The relatively slow movements, long times of remaining in a pose and lack of any additional weights make Yoga seem quite easy – until you try it.
The combination of breath and movement, the activation of all big muscles groups, the powerful impact of gravity, the large amounts of (small) muscles needed for managing balance and alignment, the long time of muscle contraction… They all ensure that a classically structured yoga-session will be a whole-body workout with recognisable effects on your general fitness, muscle-tone, posture… you name it.
Mobilise your spine and joints – Let go of tension and stiffness
Over the last decades, fasciae have gained more attention in the world of physical exercise, massage- and physiotherapy and (alternative) medicine. It’s the complicated name for connective tissue that sheathes our organs, muscles, bones, bone marrow and brain.
Unbalanced physical activity as well as a lack of exercise lead to poor function of those sheathes and around our mid-30s we begin to experience symptoms of limited circulation, impaired function and mobility, chronic pains and stiff joints.
The thorough stretches and bends of our entire body make Yoga the perfect fasciae age-defying workout and at the same time stimulates the muscles and joints the line your spine. An inflexible spine is often the source of restrictions and pains at the most diverse spots of our body, such as hips, neck and chest. Once you regain more mobility in your spine, you’ll find out the wide range of positive “side-effects” that go with it.
Build mental strength and create peace in your mind – Find more confidence and happiness
Letting go of judgement, aiming for improved strength and flexibility in our own pace, learning to listen to our body, working with it and not against it, are lessons from Yoga practice that go much further than our mat.
It almost happens automatically but over the weeks and months every Yogi will find himself feeling more content and patient, they will make healthier choices and encounter new challenges in daily life with more confidence and optimism. – We literally become happier.
And with the common knowledge that a happy, balanced person is much more fun to be around with, even if you can’t see the advantages for yourself yet, you might always consider giving Yoga a try for the sakes of your loved ones.