Is Yoga for Me?
As a yoga teacher, I’ve seen the benefits of yoga bloom right before my eyes in my students. I’ve also experienced it countless times myself. Alternately, I can always tell when I haven’t been doing enough yoga. It shows up as impatience with my family, an aching back, and a feeling of anxiety and general unrest.
If you experience anything from mild stress to everyday debilitating anxiety, yoga might be a good fit. According to the Mayo Clinic, a number of scientific studies have shown that yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety. It can also enhance your mood and overall sense of well-being.
The American Yoga Association states that everyone suffers from mild anxiety from time to time, but chronic anxiety takes a particularly tremendous toll on the body. That’s because chronic anxiety drains energy and keeps the body in a constant state of stress. What happens in the body when constant anxiety is felt? If the body isn’t exercised, tension in the muscles builds, breathing can become constricted and the mind has no rest from the whirling thoughts and feelings that feed the anxiety.
Two main components of yoga:
Learning to control your breathing is an important part of yoga. In yoga, breath signifies your vital energy. Yoga teaches that controlling your breathing can help you control your body and quiet your mind. Yoga breathing is generally deep and focused. It allows you to be in the moment, to become aware that each breath is a moment in time. A moment where you can be present, instead of regretting the past or ruminating on the future. That in itself is hugely powerful. Students of Yoga almost always report a growing ability to more present in all aspects of their life. The breath also physically benefits the body by lowering the blood pressure and helping to release calming hormones.
Yoga poses, also called postures, are a series of movements designed to increase strength and flexibility. Poses range from lying on the floor while completely relaxed to difficult postures that may have you stretching your physical limits. These poses release tension that has built up in the muscles. As the tension releases, so does discomfort, both physical and emotional.
Yoga is thought of as a mind-body type of exercise and alternative medicine practice. That’s because it brings awareness of your physical and mental parts together, helping you to become aware of how those parts are actually one, constantly impacting each other. Through yoga, we nourish all parts of ourselves, treating the whole person altogether. Treating the “whole self” results in the peaceful state that many people have come to rely on as a major benefit from their yoga practice.
There are many styles, and many teachers and venues out there to try. As a beginner, according to the Mayo Clinic, Hatha Yoga, in particular, may be a good choice for stress management. Hatha Yoga is one of the most common styles of yoga. Beginners often appreciate its slower pace and easier movements. However, most people can benefit from any style of yoga. It all depends on your personal preferences. For that reason, I encourage you to try a few different classes and see what’s right for you. Always study with a certified teacher and notice if the teacher is willing to provide variations and the use of props in order to help students achieve their goals. A truly knowledgeable and educated teacher will always provide those things.
Yoga is helpful to all ages from 3 years old to 100, its all about finding and or creating a safe and satisfying practice that meets your individual needs and goals. If the ability to feel calm, strong and more present sounds appealing, maybe it’s time to try yoga.
Namaste (you’ll find out what that means when you attend your first class).
Kelly Garner is a certified Yoga teacher and writer at honestlyearthy.com.