When someone asks me, “Why yoga?” I say to them, “Why not yoga?” Everyone, at any age, can benefit from yoga.
Yoga is a practice of combining mind and body to promote health and relaxation. There are two things you need to know about yoga to get started: asanas and pranayama. Asanas are poses practiced in yoga that are done in unison with breath control, which is called pranayama. Working in unison, asanas and pranayama create a connection between the breath, the mind, and the emotions.
One of the most important things to remember while practicing yoga is to listen to your body. Yoga is supposed to feel good, even though some poses can be challenging. If you are new to yoga, start with a beginner’s class. You may want to try several different styles of yoga until you find the right one for you.
While some of the most notable benefits of yoga are lower stress levels, strength, and flexibility, there are other benefits you may notice as well. Since beginning my yoga practice more than eight years ago, I’ve found that I’m more at peace with myself and others. I’ve been able to bounce back more easily after most physical injuries, and I’ve been able to maintain a healthy weight. Other benefits you may notice are increased focus and balance. You learn to listen to your body, what it needs and what it doesn’t need. When you become more mindful of your body, you will want to treat it with respect.
One of my favorite quotes about yoga is from K. Pattabhi Jois. He says, “Practice and all is coming.” At first I didn’t understand fully what this would mean for me. When I first started practicing yoga, I wanted to be perfect at it. I wanted to be able to do every pose, even before my body was ready. I’ve since learned that yoga takes not only practice, but patience. Yoga is not a competition or a race. It’s meant to be done with control, mindfulness, and awareness of oneself.
I love what I’ve gained personally from practicing yoga. Even more than that, I’ve found such fulfillment from teaching yoga and watching my students realize their own potentials. Whenever I hear one of my students say, “I will never be able to do that,” I remind them: “Practice and all is coming.”
So if you’ve never tried yoga, give it a try, and see for yourself what it does for you. Who wouldn’t want to be a little stronger, more flexible, and—best of all—less stressed?