After hosting the second Yoga-Acupuncture Workshop at the Bexley Public Library last weekend with Jenna Long, I have been thinking a lot about how beneficial yoga is for all of us.
To be clear, I am no yogi. I don’t put on yoga pants, and go take yoga classes (I have in the past, but I have to adjust my routine according to life schedules). But I practice some form of yoga daily, in the comfort of my own home. The only things I have in common with ‘real’ yogis are my yoga mat, and a firm belief that connecting my breath with my body, even for a few minutes a day, can bring about so many healthy benefits.
For beginners, the thought of practicing yoga can be overwhelming, or even scary. Yoga’s popularity in the West has made it feel unattainable unless you are young, super flexible, and athletic. The truth is that yoga can be anything you make it to be, for anyone, no pre-requisites needed. The essence of yoga, I believe, is more focused in the breathing. If you allow me, instead of ‘yoga’, I may even call it ‘stretching while focusing on your breath.’ But that’s a mouthful.
There are countless forms of yoga these days… from ashatanga, to bikram, to hatha, and the list goes on. At the end of the day, however, all yoga involves some form of stretching your muscles while breathing, and being present.
So why is stretching while focusing on your breath good for you? Here are a few reasons:
1. It brings you back to the present moment. You are forced to think about where you are, and what your body is doing without being distracted.
2. You are increasing your circulation with each stretch of your muscles, moving Qi and Blood – your vital forces – concurrently to keep you healthy.
3. Your body weight creates a wonderful strength training session without needing hand weights, or adding extra bulk.
4. It relaxes your mind, and body, hence decreasing stress and anxiety.
5. Convenience: it can be done almost anywhere, at any time. You don’t even need a mat: you just need your body, and your breath (and we all have that, right?).
If you are new to yoga, I recommend that you start slowly and gently. There are plenty of YouTube channels and apps that have free videos to help guide you through simple poses or routines. It may take a few times to find something that you like (type in ‘yoga for beginners). Here is one option to get you started.