The practice of yoga came to the west back in 1893 when one of India's celebrated gurus, Swami Vivekananda, was welcomed at the World Fair in Chicago. He is now credited with igniting interest in yoga in the West.
Since then yoga has continued to grow in popularity. More people are beginning to practice this ancient art and are finding great benefits to the practice.
If you haven't tried a yoga class yet, here are a few things you can look forward to as a short list of rewards you can gain when you consistently partake in a regular yoga practice.
Many people start a yoga practice mainly for the physical benefits. If you have tight hamstrings, are stiff in your hips, or would like to improve your posture, then yoga can help you.
In most yoga classes, an instructor will guide you through a series of movements that tap into just about every part of your body: shoulders, back, hips, legs.
If you're stiff in any part of your body from the sport that you play, exercise, or even from sitting all day at work, then these guided movements will free you from those tight muscles.
Yoga is a process that involves releasing blocked tension and energy in the body, and helping make the muscles, tendons, joints, ligaments, and all other components work to their utmost potential.
The key to opening up the body is combining movement with breath. Breath is the foundation of most yoga practices.
With intentional breathing throughout your yoga practice, you will move your body through yoga pose sequences that release muscle tension, provide greater mobility, improve flexibility, strengthen muscles, and regain energy.
Also, you will hold some postures to help muscle and connective tissue release. Often from injury, surgery, or chronic use of a muscle group, scar tissue develops and connective tissue binds. This limits the movement in the body.
Holding yoga postures can be a process of releasing those tight areas to regain agility. Breath is also essential here; as you breathe deeply in your yoga practice, you are sending fresh blood and oxygen to these areas to help the process of release and opening.
Other holding postures in yoga help you gain muscular strength, too. There is an engaging quality in some yoga poses that flexes the muscles in a way that provides support to the surrounding bones, joints, and ligaments.
As you practice yoga with consistency over time, you will see remarkable improvements in your whole body including increased flexibility and range of motion, reduced pain in joints and muscles, stronger immune system, stronger lung capacity and higher quality respiration, increased metabolism, and higher quality of sleep due to improved breathing and a more oxygenated body.
Yoga also detoxifies by increasing the flow of blood to various parts of the body.
Not only will yoga help you with improving your body, but it will also provide mental and emotional benefits as yoga is centered on the mind-body connection.
With your very busy lifestyle, you may have experienced stress - a pervasive condition that we all deal with on a daily basis. Unfortunately for some, stress can lead to several serious health problems like heart disease and other cardiovascular concerns.
Yoga helps to achieve mind-body harmony through postures (asanas), proper breathing (pranayama), and meditation.
Meditation can be quite beneficial to anyone who suffers from chronic stress. Again, breath is the main key that assists with calming the heart, mind, and body.
At first, meditative yoga may seem intimidating, but it can be a very simple exercise that has positive results. It only requires a few minutes of quiet time to focus on your breath.
Sitting still and focusing on deep breathing can slow down your heart rate and pulse, and take your mind off wandering and random thoughts. Whether you're sitting in a mindfulness meditation class or attending a moving yoga practice, your focus remains on yourself.
That is the intention of the whole yoga experience: to bring a greater awareness to yourself. As a result, you find improvements in your physical body, better concentration, less stress, an increase in energy, and an overall healthy mindset and lifestyle.