Yoga – You hear a lot about it, but what is yoga. It seems you cannot drive down the street without passing a yoga studio.
And most of the fitness centers offer yoga as a class. You cannot go to the beach or on a cruise where you don’t see at least a few people practicing yoga moves in the morning.
What is Yoga?
Besides a person moving slowly and posing, what really is yoga? The simple definition of Yoga…an old discipline from India.
It is both spiritual and physical. Yoga uses breathing techniques, exercise and meditation. It helps to improve health and happiness.
Yoga is the Sanskrit word for union (1).
People practice yoga for a lot of reasons. It has many “exercise” related benefits, such as; increases muscle strength and improves heart health.
Too me, the biggest benefits are provided by increased flexibility and balance that can lead to reduced pain.
Yoga is an activity that not only provides physical benefits, but it also has numerous mental and spiritual benefits that can improve your life in a number of ways.
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What are the Benefits of Yoga ?
Yoga has many benefits. These 10 give the best overview of what yoga has to offer and why you should make it part of your weekly health activities.
1. Can decrease stress
2. Can relieve anxiety
3. May reduce inflammation
4. Can improve your quality of Life
5. Can fight depression
6. Could reduce chronic pain
7. Could increase sleep quality
8. Can improve flexibility and balance
9. Can help improve breathing
10. Can increase strength
Can You Tone Your Body With Yoga ?
The short answer to this question is “yes”, but ultimately it depends on what your goals are for toning and muscle building how far yoga will take you.
Strength training is done with some type of resistance. The most common types of resistance are provided by weight machines, free weights or resistance bands.
With yoga, the resistance or weight is provided by your own body when you hold the yoga pose.
Yoga can be a great way to keep and tone muscles, but someone looking to bulk up is still going to need to visit the gym.
There is nothing wrong with doing both yoga and traditional strength training exercises.
How do I Start Yoga at Home ?
The internet makes more things possible from your home than ever before.
On-demand programming makes it possible to find almost anything on television at any time of the day including yoga routines.
The internet also gives guidance for the beginner to the advanced yogi. And it is as close as your nearest internet-ready electronic device.
As far as getting started at home, it is this simple:
A quiet and uncluttered space is the most important need for an “at-home yoga” program.
A mat can be purchased at a very reasonable price here.
You can add the strap, blocks, blanket and bolster at a later time, but these items are also very reasonably priced.
This yoga kit has them all for less than $60.
Your space does not have to be large. Quiet, clean, decluttered and sacred are what is important.
As a beginner, you can start out with 10-15 minutes a day and add sequences and additional minutes as time goes on.
Many people practice yoga from their homes or any tranquil outdoor space (my favorite is the beach).
How Can I Practice Yoga ?
The nice thing about yoga is it does not really require a lot of special equipment making it easy to do almost anywhere that has a reasonable amount of space, including your home.
A yoga mat is pretty much all the equipment that is required to practice yoga. Some people have a room, especially for yoga and meditation.
Some would prefer to be outside. If you are just beginning a yoga routine, get a good mat, comfortable clothes and get started.
You cannot reap the benefits until you begin the process.
What is the Best Time to do Yoga ?
Most people say yoga is best done first thing in the morning before breakfast and the second-best time is early in the evening before sunset.
After it is all said and done, it might come down to where you have time to fit your asanas into your schedule.
My choice would be morning, but that is because I am a morning person.
Others may feel the evening suits them best because it can help them unwind and relax at the end of the day.
There is nothing that stops you from having a morning and an evening yoga routine.
Can I do Yoga Every Day ?
Experts recommend doing yoga 3 – 5 times per week. But unlike other types of exercise, there are no hard rules for yoga.
Your body is the biggest decision-maker when it comes to “how much” and “when”.
You can practice as little as an hour a week or 15 minutes a day.
You need to allow your body time to rest, by alternating days or practicing yoga for 10-15 minutes daily you will get the need rest between sessions.
While it is not common, it is possible to overdo the amount of time spent practicing yoga.
Can Yoga Help Relieve Stress and Anxiety?
There is research that shows that yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety. Here are some great tips for using yoga to reduce stress and anxiety.
Short sequences – Short, frequent sessions are better than long, less frequent practices.
Don’t think that because you don’t have an hour, there is no value in doing some stretches. Even 10 minutes a day can be beneficial.
Try different types of yoga – Some people need the calming effect of some of the slower forms of yoga while others nee more intensity in order to be able to relax.
Find a calming space – “Calming” means different things to different people.
Pick lighting, music, scents and seating that brings comfort to you. Avoid bright lights, loud music and cluttered spaces.
Practice controlled breathing – Simple and slow breathing techniques are a great way to relieve anxiety.
Focus on exhaling as a way of cleansing your mind. You don’t need any special equipment or location to be able to reduce anxiety with breathing techniques.
You can do it sitting at a desk during the workday or while the kids are taking a nap.
Practice and repeat – Nothing is perfect the first time. Be patient and practice. The desired results will come with time.
Yoga is a multi-purpose activity. It can help you lose weight and give you the mental strength to make smart decisions.
It can calm you, make you more flexible and promote balance. Got back pain? Why not give yoga a try?
If you are looking for a way to improve your body, mind and soul and you do not practice yoga, there is no time like the present to add a 10-minute session to your morning workout routine.