…at least every once in a while!
Yoga has been around for thousands of years and there’s a reason why: it balances the mind, the body, and the spirit. No other physical activity asks us to connect to our breath quite like yoga does. It allows us to welcome an awareness of our body in this fleeting world and to stop thinking about that soccer practice we have to get Johnny to or about the bills we have to pay or about that relationship that’s just beginning or about our in-laws who just left town… well, it allows us to try to stop thinking about those things at least, which is just as important.
“We know, we know! It’s important,” you say, “but I can’t fit it into my schedule!” Many of us struggle to commit to a weekly yoga class. In our hectic lives, it’s hard to fit it in, which is why we’re lucky that there are many alternative options to get on your mat. More about that below, but first, get rid of all your preconceived notions about what yoga is and read a little bit more about why it might actually be a healthy solution to some of the challenges you face.
What Is Yoga Really?
Yoga originated in India and is thought to be about 5,000 years-old. It has morphed its way into American culture and you can find bits of old and new in different yoga classes. While the Oxford dictionary defines yoga as "a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline,” you shouldn’t be scared away if you don’t think of yourself as a spiritual person or if the idea of meditation freaks you out. Some classes tend to focus on the physical aspect and some on the mental, but most incorporate both into the practice. The Sanskrit word "yuj", which the word "yoga" comes from, means "to yoke or bind" and it’s often thought of as a “union.” You might be more attracted to the physical benefits of yoga or you might be looking for the mental side of it, but either way, you might be surprised at what you find.
Why Should I Do Yoga?
You’ve probably heard about the many benefits of yoga. It keeps you limber. It helps you age well. It aids in blood circulation, posture, digestion, and muscle strength. It’s quite American to stop at just those physical points, but the mental benefits are resounding as well. Yoga asks you to stop. It asks you to breathe. It asks you to turn off your brain. It asks you to **gasp** be present in this chaotic life we lead. And, on top of all of that, it asks you to let go.
If you’re a beginner to yoga, it’s important to note that ANYONE CAN DO YOGA! And everyone is welcome. You don’t need much — just a pair of flexible leggings or shorts, a shirt that isn’t too baggy, and your curiosity. Most studios will have mats to borrow or rent as well as props you may need in class. It might seem intimidating, but if you look around at a yoga class — everyone there at some point started right where you are now. And they’re still there because yoga feels good for the soul. The truth is, we should all stop looking around the class and turn our attentions back on ourselves. You’re why you’re here. To further yourself. To grow. To move. To breathe.
A lot of people have an image of the ideal “yogi.” People are often intimidated. They think they have to be thin, they think they have to be flexible, they think they have to own expensive workout outfits. The truth is, yoga is great for all body types -- and all ages. Don’t let your idea of what yoga is stop you from trying.