With its origins in the ancient East, yoga has gained massive popularity in the modern world.
Its image has evolved from those photos of the extraordinary practice of unbelievably flexible cotton-clad ascetics in India and the 70s hobby of hippy types. It was in the early 90s however that yoga really started to become mainstream in the United States with celebrities like Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow and Meg Ryan becoming avid followers, and continues to become part of the chosen lifestyle of thousands of westerners seeking some real balance, health and well-being in their lives.
Everyone comes to yoga for different reasons. For instance, some are interested in an intense physical workout, while others are on more of a spiritual path toward enlightenment. If you’re considering taking up the practice, consider what about the art form interests you. Are you attracted to yoga because of its health benefits, and if so, is it physical or emotional health you are most interested in?
Today the practice of Yoga as an exercise is widespread. Practitioners of yoga carry out poses or postures and breathing techniques to bring about a state of relaxation and to strengthen the body. Many health benefits flow from the practice of yoga including;
- Physical strength. Physical strength is developed through extending the time of holding a posture or stretch.
- Mental clarity and focus. Because of the meditative nature of yoga, participants have reported improved levels of concentration and focus.
- Emotional well-being. Yoga encourages the flow of energy through the body, helping to clear emotional blockages and provide a sense of well-being. People often report they are calmer after regular practice of yoga.
- Bone, muscle and joint health. Because of the nature of yoga, over time your body becomes stronger and more flexible to help joints and muscles to stay supple, promoting pain-free range of motion.
- Injury prevention and enhanced immunity. Yoga puts you back in touch with your body as you develop more of an awareness of what your body actually needs, helping you to break those unhealthy lifestyle habits. It also assists in injury prevention as your immune and natural healing system develops.
Perhaps the more enticing draw for practitioners is that everyone can do yoga. There is always a suitable way for every individual to practice yoga – old or young, injured, fit or unfit, supple or inflexible, male or female. You just need the right attitude and to find the right teacher for you.
Once you know what it is you’re looking for, you can set some goals. Contact the teacher of the yoga class you’re considering and ask if your expectations are reasonable and in line with the style of yoga they offer.