What do you know about yoga? Are you a seasoned practitioner who thinks yoga is the best workout you've ever done? Are you a beginner struggling to learn the difference between the poses and what you do to successfully execute them?
Maybe you fall somewhere between those extremes. Maybe you’re one of those people who thinks yoga is great for the hip, young girls you see spending time at the local coffee shop, but it's too "out there" for you.
No matter where you fall on the spectrum of knowledge about yoga, there is an entire month designated to help you learn more about yoga! September has been named National Yoga Awareness Month.
The goal during the month of September is to provide education about the benefits to your health that can be achieved through yoga. Another goal is to inspire people to pursue a healthy lifestyle. The month-long campaign was designated as a national observance in 2008 by the Department of Health and Human Services.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is defined as "a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation."
Put more simply, yoga is a form of exercise that incorporates physical body postures with breathing techniques and meditation to help you relax and experience better health.
Yoga involves more than just stretching your body. There is a spiritual and mental component to the practice as well. The combination of breathing, meditation, and exercise makes an overall healthier body, mind, and spirit.
History of Yoga
Yoga originally began in India around 3000 B.C. It was developed to help people achieve unity between heart and soul as they sought enlightenment.
In the West, yoga is used to help ease ailments. As yoga moved further from India, the practice of yoga separated into a variety of different kinds of yoga teachings. There are six main kinds of yoga. Those are Hatha, Raja Bhakti, Jnana, Kriya, and Karma.
The most well-known kinds are Hatha and Raja. The popularity of yoga in the Western world gained momentum around the 1980s.
Benefits of Yoga
Yoga's purpose is to bring harmony to the mind and body while building strength. Anyone can start practicing yoga. No matter your fitness level there is a yoga style for you.
Every pose allows for modifications, and there are beginner classes available in every style. The point is not to strive for perfection but to get in tune with the way your body works and to find peace with your inner self. You should strive to push your own limitations.
The nature of the exercises naturally yields increased flexibility and balance. The focused breathing in yoga leads to improved respiration which helps to increase energy levels. Using the relaxation techniques associated with yoga can help to diminish the chronic pain associated with such ailments as arthritis, lower back pain, and headaches.
If you experience high blood pressure or insomnia, yoga could help you. Other physical benefits include weight loss, a more balanced metabolism, improved muscle strength and tone, improved athletic performance, and even protection from injuries.
In addition to physical benefits, yoga provides you with mental benefits as well. Yoga helps you to more effectively manage the stress in your life. The use of meditation and breathing techniques help with overall mental well-being.
The regular practice of yoga helps to improve concentration and mental clarity. Yoga helps you to relax your mind which decreases the effects of stress and helps to ease insomnia potentially allowing you to get more restful sleep.
The self-awareness that yoga helps you achieve makes it easier for you to recognize symptoms of ailments at an early stage. Early recognition of symptoms leads to early intervention and treatment thereby positively affecting overall health.
Classic Yoga Poses
One of the most talked-about poses is the Downward Facing Dog. It is one of the relatively simple poses that yoga enthusiasts practice.
Other classic poses include the Lotus, the Cat-Cow, the Warrior, the Triangle, the Bow, and the Corpse.
Each pose has its own benefits and can be adjusted to be successfully completed by beginners as well as seasoned yoga connoisseurs. These are poses that can be perfected either in a studio in class or on your own at home.
No matter what stage you have reached on your fitness journey you can do yoga (with a health professional's approval, of course). If you have hesitated to try yoga, the month of September is a good time to explore the options.
Many yoga studios offer reduced prices for their classes during National Yoga Awareness Month. Professional yoga instructors are encouraged to share their knowledge with people of all skill levels.
What better time to learn more about the benefits yoga has in store for you?!
Emily Palmer is a caffeinated blogger who loves talking Decorating, Travel, Yoga, Parenting, Self Development, and more. She can be reached on Twitter if you can’t find her at the local café.