Health & Wellness

Why You Should Do Yoga

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What is Yoga?

Yoga is an old discipline from India. It is both spiritual and physical. Yoga uses breathing techniques, exercise, and meditation. It helps to improve health and happiness. Yoga is the Sanskrit word for union.

You should do Yoga! 

 

What are the benefits?

Did you know that it fights the Flu…and any other bug you’re trying to beat? By influencing gene expression, yoga strengthens your immune system at the cellular level, according to research out of Norway

Another great reason is…. It Scores You Dates…. Practice yoga, get more dates. When a few dating sites combed through the 1,000 most popular words used by men and women in dating profiles, they found that people who mention yoga are ranked among the most attractive of online singles.

You Can Practice It With Your Pet: Thanks to “doga”-which started in New York in 2002, according to The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America-you can practice yoga with your dog. Pups can pose alongside you, or you can use them as furry props. While a few feline yoga classes exist, cats seem to be fonder of interrupting yoga. 

It Can Be Done in the Nude:

Naked yoga classes-in which practitioners strip down to the buff before down-dogging with fellow practitioners-are popping up everywhere. Offered as male, female, and coed classes, they’re meant to take yoga’s love-your-body mantra to the next level. Check out how one woman overcame her naked-yoga fears, gained some confidence, and shrugged off her so-called “imperfections.”

It Encourages Body Positivity. In more #LoveMyShape news, there’s no one “yoga body,” and curvy gals are proving they can rock inversions, too. They’re sharing photos of themselves performing yoga poses with the hashtags #curvyyoga, #curvyyogi, and #curvygirlyoga. 

 

It Slashes Stress. Anyone who has ever settled into child’s pose knows yoga is calming. “The tensing and relaxation of muscles during yoga-along with mindful awareness of physical sensations-helps us relax”.

It Makes Sex So Much Better. While it’s natural to feel sexier as you become stronger and more confident (no matter the exercise), yoga’s sex-enhancing ways go beyond those of other workouts it not only tones your muscles, but it improves your flexibility, increases your core stability, and strengthens your pelvic floor muscles-which translates into a tighter down-there grip and stronger orgasms.

It Can Help You Eat Better. “This trains your brain to notice what’s happening your body, helping you pay more attention to sensations of hunger and satiety.” The result: You see food as fuel. No more emotional eating, stuffing yourself silly, and food-related guilty

It Makes You Smarter. Twenty minutes of yoga improves the brain’s ability to quickly and accurately process information. “This mindful awareness has been correlated with structural changes in the brain, including growth in the prefrontal cortex, a brain region associated with executive function, working memory, and attention.”

It Protects Your Heart. Your yoga instructor is always talking about “opening your heart” for a reason. “Yoga can reduce high blood pressure, bad cholesterol, and stress, all risk factors for heart disease.

Are there different types?

There are quite a few options depending on your preference. Here are a few you might want to try. 

 

Hatha Yoga

This is perfect for beginners;

It’s all about the basics in these slower moving classes that require you to hold each pose for a few breaths. In many studios, Hatha classes are considered a gentler form of yoga. However, the Sanskrit term “Hatha” actually refers to any yoga that teaches physical postures. “It’s a practice of the body, a physical practice that balances these two energies. 

Vinyasa Yoga

Intense exercisers might enjoy Vinyasa because of its faster pace;

Get your flow on in this dynamic practice that links movement and breath together in a dance-like way. In most classes, you won’t linger long in each pose and the pace can be quick, so be prepared for your heart rate to rise. Teachers will often pump music, matching the beats to the sequences of the poses.

Iyengar Yoga

If you like to geek out about anatomy, movement and form, you’ll love Iyengar;

Here you’ll get nit-picky about precision and detail, as well as your body’s alignment in each pose. Props, from yoga blocks and blankets to straps or a ropes wall, will become your new best friend, helping you to work within a range of motion that is safe and effective. Unlike in Vinyasa, each posture is held for a period of time. If you’re new to Iyengar, even if you’ve practiced other types of yoga, it’s good to start with a level one class to familiarize yourself with the technique.

Ashtanga Yoga

If you’re a perfectionist, you’ll like Ashtanga’s routine and strict guidelines;

If you’re looking for a challenging yet orderly approach to yoga, try Ashtanga. Consisting of six series of specifically sequenced yoga poses, you’ll flow and breathe through each pose to build internal heat. The catch is that you’ll perform the same poses in the exact same order in each class. 

Bikram Yoga

This is for people who gravitate toward a set routine.

Prepare to sweat: Bikram consists of a specific series of 26 poses and two breathing exercises practiced in a room heated to approximately 105 degrees and 40 percent humidity. All Bikram studios practice the same 90-minute sequence so you’ll know exactly what to do once you unroll your mat. Remember, the vigorous practice combined with the heat can make the class feel strenuous. Those who are newer to yoga might like Bikram because of its predictable sequence.

Hot Yoga: is similar to Bikram in that it’s practiced in a heated room. But teachers aren’t constrained by the 26-pose Bikram sequence. While the heat will make you feel like you can move deeper into some poses compared to a non-heated class, it can be easy to overstretch, so don’t push beyond your capacity.

This is great for the hardcore sweat lovers. If you love a tough workout that will leave you drenched, sign up for a beginner-friendly heated class.

With a few options on the table, the main question here is: 

What to Expect from Your First Yoga Class?

Begin with Yoga Clothes:

Practically speaking, it will depend on what type of class you are going to. If you are going to a power yoga class or a Bikram (hot) yoga class, you are going to sweat, so you would want to wear clothes that wick away sweat (similar to what you would wear to go running).

Baggy T-shirts are fine for guys, but women should wear a tight-fitting top so that when you are in an inversion (like Downward Dog), your top doesn’t come down over your head, this can be dangerous. Wear quick-dry capri or full-length fitted pants; this will help your instructor check your alignment.

Yoga Gear

If you are new to yoga and haven’t bought a mat yet, call ahead and ask if the yoga studio or gym has a mat for you to borrow or rent for the day. I suggest buying your own mat after you have tried a few yoga classes. Yoga mats come in all kinds of colors and materials, from natural rubber to synthetic, as well as different levels of thickness. Most studios provide basic props, such as blocks, which are used to help with alignment, and straps, which can help if you are new to yoga. You also want to bring some water and a towel.

 

Yoga Etiquette

Get there early: Arrive at least ten minutes before your first yoga class to get a spot where you feel most comfortable. 

After you arrive: Take off your shoes and socks before you walk into the room; sometimes studios have cubbies for your shoes, right inside the yoga room. If you are not sure, ask the front desk or just watch what everyone else is doing. I suggest finding a place in the back by the door — you will be able to see and follow the people in front of you. Whether you borrow a mat from the studio or bring your own, make sure you unroll it facing the instructor. 

Communicate: Before class starts, introduce yourself to the instructor. Tell the instructor whether you have any injuries, especially a recent one, so he or she can give you modifications.

Breathe: It’s common for new students to hold their breath during yoga poses they find challenging. Breathing deeply can help you relax. In the beginning, don’t worry about matching the instructor’s breathing instructions exactly; just don’t hold your breath.

Don’t leave in the middle of Corpse pose: Most yoga classes end with Corpse pose, also called Savasana (pronounced sha-VASS-ahnah). With this pose, you lie flat on your back, close your eyes, and relax. You never want to walk out of a class when they are in Corpse pose. If you have to leave, do it before.

Namaste: Don’t be scared off when your instructor bows her head as if in prayer, clasps her hands together in front of her heart and says, “Namaste” (pronounced nah-mas-TAY). You’ll notice the class says it back as well. This Sanskrit word means “I honor you” and is normally said at the end of class.