I’m new to the yoga world.
Not quite new, but more like….something of a wayward daughter of it. I always liked it, but in the past I’ve found it difficult to be consistent. But one thing is sure. I always come back to it.
Yoga to me is simply a way to relax and take care of my body. It’s a form of exercise at any level. I enjoy yoga mostly because of the range of activity that it actually can entail. You can have a simple stretching session which barely breaks a sweat, but definitely leaves you feeling renewed and relaxed to a full blown, sweat inducing workout that has you breathing deeply and feeling like you worked every muscle in your body. I love that. I love that I can have whatever I want when it comes to yoga.
There are even some medical studies that have proven that the benefits to the body that have been claimed since the beginning of this ancient practice are actually mostly true. Some central concepts of yoga such as “energy” or prana are definitely ideas that have been up for debate in the past, and will be in the future as well. However, for my purposes and as a future physician, I can’t deny that the more easily physically displayed and quantifiable aspects that yoga provides are proof enough for me to feel like it is definitely beneficial. These are the areas where I feel I have improved since I began practicing yoga.
1. Strength and flexibility
3. Mood and relaxation
As opposed to other methods of exercise, yoga does not require you to push your body to places of pain or resistance. While growth is good and completely within reach you are also encouraged to never pass to the point of pain. It’s not supposed to be uncomfortable. I do like to push myself though. So I do it gently. Other health benefits claimed to be attainable through yoga which make perfect sense to me include the following.
1. Prevents joint breakdown
2. Protects and maintains the spine
3. Boosts immunity
4. Increases/maintains bone health
5. Improves cardiovascular health
6. Improves sleep
There are many more benefits not listed here that I believe regular practice may score you in the long run. Why? Because truly, yoga is a type of exercise, and these are proven benefits of regular exercise. And in addition to this, who doesn’t feel super healthy and balanced after a good yoga session? It certainly makes me think about my day to
day practices including how I eat and take care of myself. It gives me a sense of having a healthy lifestyle. Even if I don’t do it all the time, it’s a definite step in the right direction and a key component of my motivation.
Even slow progress is progress still.
While the exact scientific proof of how practicing yoga can actually help you maintain or improve health is on the table for open discussion, one thing is sure.
It certainly does not hurt.