By Contributor Jen Shragge
Have you been wondering why is yoga so trendy lately? Do the images of perfectly toned, Lululemon-clad pixies make you want to try yoga, but then images of hippies sitting in the forest holding hands and chanting Ommmm make you think twice? Here’s everything you need to know about the amazing health benefits of yoga- no Birkenstocks required.
Let me break it down for you:
- Yoga IS for everybody. Literally and figuratively. There are dozens of mainstream styles of yoga that are widely practiced all over North America that are accessible to every level of fitness (or lack thereof) and flexibility (or lack thereof). One quick scan at your local yoga studio should reveal something that works for you.
- The more you practice yoga, the more you will love it. Just like any other form of physical activity, yoga releases endorphins, which are feel good chemicals for the brain. Plus yoga has the added benefit of meditative elements, which have recently been proven to aid memory, concentration as well as mood. If you’re curious about how this works, check out this study: http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/acm.2010.0007
- Yoga addresses all the muscles in your body in one fell swoop. Who doesn’t want longer, leaner arms and legs and more defined abs. Anybody? Anybody? Yoga focuses on strength and flexibility while allowing for comfort and ease. Even the most relaxing and healing forms of yoga (Yin and Restorative) will provide your muscles with a deep release.
- Yoga teachers love twists. Why twisting? Twisting the torso creates a gentle rinsing and soaking of the internal organs. This aids in digestion and in turn elimination. We all like to be regular, right?
- Yoga classes all end with Savasana or Corpse Pose. This is the best part of class for most people. The turning off the world and just relaxing. The last five or seven minutes where you just get to fall into deep, motionless peace and quiet. Many find this pose so relaxing they simply fall asleep.
- Time for yourself! Committing to a regular yoga practice also means committing to making time for yourself. That means an hour or two free of cooking, laundry, squabbling siblings or having to worry about signing field trip forms. Making time for yourself is critical for most women and one of the biggest challenges they seem to face.
What to keep in mind:
- There is no such thing as perfect in yoga. Each pose in yoga has a general form but, the only perfect is when your own body finds strength and stability in that pose.
- Look for teachers that have completed a 200 hour Yoga Alliance (http://www.yogaalliance.org/) approved teacher training program. There is no governing body for yoga teachers (yet). The closest thing you can get is a teacher that has completed the 200 hour program. These teachers have studied yoga history, correct alignment and modifications and counter indications for each pose. This is critical to ensure a safe and injury free yoga practice.
Jen Shragge lives just south of Vancouver, BC with her Kid, Hubby and Doggie. When she’s not trying to make the world more green she is trying to get her family to eat more green. She writes about her challenges and includes the recipes at Cookingforthecarnivore.