Yoga is one of those health trends that has become increasingly popular in American culture over the last several decades. While many people have jumped into the yoga craze, there are many individuals who are still unsure of what yoga is and the tremendous health benefits it can provide.
For starters, yoga originated as a discipline in ancient India, likely between 2,000 and 2,500 years ago. There are a few theories as to the origin of yoga, but generally, it is a practice likely to have taken shape through the teachings and philosophies of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.
Modern yoga as we know it in the west was introduced throughout the 20th century and focuses less on the religious aspects and more on the health and wellness aspects of yoga.
There are many different types of yoga:
- Vinyasa yoga focuses on controlling and coordinating your breathing through a variety of poses which you flow into in a smooth manner. This is often considered the most athletic type of yoga.
- Yin yoga is a more slow-paced style of yoga that incorporates seated positions and poses that are held for a longer period of time.
- Restorative yoga is focused more on winding down and setting the mind at ease with the goal being total body and mind relaxation.
- Power yoga is focused on the physical health benefits of yoga and often incorporates strength training poses and exercises like pushups to build a strong body.
- Hot yoga is yet another type of yoga that takes place in a hot room, typically over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and can incorporate aspects of any other type of yoga.
So, what are the health benefits of yoga? Well, there are many, both physical and mental. Firstly, yoga can improve your flexibility, posture, cardiovascular health, and strength. These are particularly important as we age, and the biggest benefit of yoga is the low impact stress it can place on the body. And for older individuals, yoga can also improve balance, which of course can help protect us from falls and bone breakages.
Secondly, yoga focuses on connecting your body with your mind and can increase your mental fortitude and awareness of yourself. This can result in stress relief, anxiety relief, boosted self-esteem, and even a better night’s sleep.
One of the best parts about yoga is the low barrier of entry, typically classes can be found for free online to follow along with, and all you need as far as equipment goes is a yoga mat and maybe a yoga block. But even these may not be necessary if you have a flat surface to practice yoga on. And while there are many free yoga courses online, working with a yoga teacher in a structured class can give you an opportunity to improve your poses and posture under the tutelage of somebody with lots of experience working with new practitioners.
So, if yoga is something you’ve been interested in, check it out and look for an opportunity around you to improve your mind and body.