I remember the first time I heard about the Yoga trend. I thought it was some crazy mystical thing where you did stuff with your chakras (I don’t even know what that means?) and twisted yourself into a pretzel! You’ll be happy to know, I’ve since become more educated and less judgmental about this activity. The fact that I love yoga pants doesn’t hurt!
According to Wikipedia, Yoga is a commonly known generic term for physical, mental, and spiritual disciplines which originated in ancient India. It is one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy and has been around for about 5000 years. Yoga unites the mind, body, and spirit through specific poses and breathing exercises.
Recently, I was presenting at a wellness event and met Leanne Hutcherson who was speaking on the benefits of Yoga on behalf of Inspire Yoga Studio. Leanne is a devoted Yoga and Wellness instructor with more than a decade of experience. She offers transformational workshops for students from all walks of life (that’s her in the picture below - more about her at www.lh-wellness.com).
Leanne used to take part in many harmful exercise choices and has a few sports injuries. She says “I have bunions from years in ballet shoes and I ran way too much.” When she found Yoga, it was a perfect match.
Leanne explains that people in India practice Yoga to tame minds, but here in the USA we use it to tame mind and body. It’s become less focused on mind/spirit and more about staying physically fit.
She says “It’s trendy, but is it right for you? As with anything, you get out of it what you put into it.” She also gives this advice: “If you’ve tried Yoga before and didn’t like it – think about finding another instructor that you resonate with.”
Here are Leanne’s 8 reasons to try it again or for the first time!
1) Strength & balance
Did you know that we lose 1% of our strength and our balance every year? Once you hit your 40’s, you step more tenuously and hear more stories of friends and family who fall and become injured. Back and hip surgeries are some of the most common in the US. Yoga improves balance and strength. It keeps your core strong which has a direct correlation to back pain and injury. Use Yoga to stay strong and maintain balance as you age – stay off that walker as long as possible!
2) Stress relief
People experience stress in different ways because stress comes from toxins stuck in our body - from traffic, work, relationships, family, etc. (just reading this list makes me stressed out). All these things crowd & clutter our mind. In Yoga, you practice breathing exercises and relax your muscles – this helps remove the clutter and creates space in your mind. Leanne says “In a nutshell, Yoga is like taking a one hour vacation!”
3) Injury relief
Yoga is very much about listening to your body and not pushing past your limits. Unlike some physical activities, Yoga is a soulful way of strengthening and caring for your body. Leanne explains, “Yoga is great if you have injuries or if you’re just coming off a surgery. I’ve had many women in my classes who are recuperating from back surgery and breast cancer. It’s a great choice in physical activity because we gently get them back to 100%.”
4) Anger management
Yoga teaches “ahimsa” which is the principle of non-violence toward all living things. On the surface, this might sound fluffy, but it translates into helping you become a more cooperative, understanding and compassionate person. Who doesn’t need more of that in their life? Yoga helps us learn to manage anger and inject understanding and kindness into every situation.
5) Therapeutic benefits
Yoga is truly a full body workout with therapeutic benefits. It helps you to have more self-awareness of your mental and emotional patterns and helps calm your central nervous system. As a result, some people are able to decrease certain medications. Leanne explains the science behind it: people take meds because they need more of a certain chemical than their body is producing. Yoga can train the body to create it naturally. In other words, Yoga helps us to self-heal. Obviously, this takes a little work everyday (just like you’d take a drug) AND it doesn’t happen for everyone, so don’t throw out that Ambien just yet. Still, it’s worth investigating to see if it can help you.
6) Internal rewards
When doing Yoga, you’ll move through a series of poses and twists that help to release your internal organs. You’ll put some pressure on your kidneys and liver which improves filtration (filtering out the bad). Pressure on your colon improves your digestion and “potty habits.”
7) Joint help
Yoga releases the facia or connective tissue in your body. Basically, it does the same thing as acupuncture without the needles. Recent studies of people with arthritis show that regular yoga practice can help reduce joint pain and improve joint flexibility and function. If you have joint pain, Yoga will most likely be a good activity for you
8) Cosmetic non-surgery
Leanne explained that she has many women start Yoga right arou that it keeps skin more toned and reduces sagginess – basically, it’s “No-Tox” instead of “Botox.” It helps make skin more elastic fromnd class reunion time. Who doesn’t want to look their best and get rid of those last 5 lbs (or 10 or 20)? Another great side effect of Yoga is the inside out vs. expensive skin care products (I suggest doing both, for safety).
Leanne’s final words of wisdom: “Don’t be afraid to start now! Plan on 1-3 times a week for 1 hour each (once a week is great, but at 3, you’ll maximize the benefits). This is an activity you can do for your entire life and there are lifelong benefits. It meets you where you are in your life. Whether you’re a child or senior citizen, anyone can do it!”
Now, tell us your Yoga story! Do you just “wear the pants,” dabble in it, or are you a die hard Yogi? How has Yoga helped you?