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Yoga Anyone? Try Something New This Spring

Ever tried yoga? Is coming along to a class one of those things you keep meaning to do but haven’t so far managed? Don’t be intimidated by thoughts of fellow yogis turning themselves into pretzels. Many classes are open to newcomers with a range of fitness levels and the benefits exceed beyond the physical, as witnessed by an estimated 12 to 20 million Americans who practice yoga today.

 

Yoga postures Parshvakonasana

Image via Wikipedia

The word ‘yoga’, like much of English, has a Sanskrit origin. It means ‘union’ and shares the same root with ‘yoke’ meaning ‘to join together’. Much of the time in our often fast-paced lives, our minds wander so that we are not really present with people and situations around us. Through practicing yoga we can unite our mind, body, and spirit and perhaps even gain a sense of connection with the Divine. Indeed, the English word ‘spirit’ comes from a Latin word meaning ‘breath’, so as we gracefully move our bodies in rhythm with our breathing, focusing our minds on each inhale and exhale, our spirit – the essence of who we are – feels at peace. As one of my students recently exclaimed at the end of class: ‘It’s only yoga that can put you to sleep on a thin mat on a hard floor!’

 

Although the origins of yoga date back over five thousand years, many of the physical postures that make up what we think of as yoga today were developed during the last century. The word we use for these positions is ‘asana’ but when this word was used in ancient texts it actually meant ‘seat’ or to sit comfortably for meditation. Physical postures were originally intended as a prelude to meditation, an aide to help loosen-up the body so that yogis could sit in contemplation for long periods of time. They have since gained recognition as a beneficial practice in their own right.

Those who practice yoga regularly have reported experiencing the following:

  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Improved concentration
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased cardiovascular efficiency
  • Increased lubrication of joints
  • Increased flexibility
  • Improved coordination
  • Stabilized weight
  • Detoxification
  • Greater muscle tone
  • Feeling more energized
  • Improved overall mood and sense of wellbeing
  • Deep relaxation

Give yourself a spring clean and treat yourself to something new. You’re worth it.

Millie Mabelle, MA, RYT, is a certified yoga teacher who is starting a new lunchtime class at Downtown Yoga in April. For more details, log on to milliemabelle.com or call 627 2155.

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