Though, off late yoga has enjoyed growing popularity, but still if you ask most fitness fanatics about their preference, they would go for cardio, interval training or any other high intensity exercise routine. The gentle and calm yoga practice is often derided for being too dull and boring. Many would instead prefer the adrenaline pump given by tabata or any other heavy duty workout regime.
Often, people picture a yoga session as a simple routine in which you sit around and spend your time Om-ing and chanting. However, this stereotype is far from the truth. This is an illusion that has been used as a stick to beat yoga.
A good yoga session can be as difficult and challenging as any of your regular high intensity programs. And, the health benefits of yoga are far more encompassing than that of your regular fitness regimes. The emotional and mental benefits of yoga are unparalleled.
Here, are some other things, we present to you on this International Yoga Day, June 21 that no one has told you about doing yoga.
A Practice, Not a Workout
Those who have been wondering why it is called a yoga practice, this point is for you. In yoga, there is no big competition day or a specific goal, you have been preparing for. Yoga is about constant improvement, about taking your body a bit further from where it was yesterday. You can almost always make any pose more challenging, can always tweak few conditions and take your progress a step ahead. It is about nurturing your body, mind and emotional energy and at the same time purging your body of negative energy and other things that might be harming your health and proving to be an obstacle in your well being. It is a journey with no destination, which makes it more fun and relaxing.
It Is About All Round Health
No, the all-round fitness doesn’t mean full body fitness. The all-round fitness means being mentally and emotionally balanced along with getting physically fit. And, this type of fitness can only be achieved with the regular practice of yoga. The weight lifting routine can help you create bulging muscles, but does it help gain mental tranquility. An intense cardio or interval training session can help you shed pounds, but can it help you shed negative energy and pollutants that can harm your body. But, yoga can. The benefits of yoga stretch from those well evident ones to the more subtle ones, which can’t be shown, but can be felt deep inside your body. Yoga with stretching, pranayama and meditation techniques is a complete health package that along with ensuring your fitness, also makes you joyful, enthusiastic and full of life.
Flexibility Is Not a Criteria
Often, people avoid joining yoga classes because they don’t have the necessary flexibility. But, flexibility has never been a criterion for an admission, a good attitude and determination to make positive change have been. But, flexibility never. The flexibility is one of the many benefits of doing yoga. If you can’t touch your toes, then great, you have one more reason to join a yoga class. And, once you join one, start practicing the yoga with regularity, and touching your toes could become one of the easiest things.
And, flexibility is one of the most criminally underrated aspect of fitness. Good flexibility can be helpful in treating back and other joint pain, increasing range of motion, improving posture, enhancing blood flow and most importantly, preventing injuries.
It Improves Immunity
Yoga can improve your immune system in several different ways. Doing yoga has a calming effect on your nervous system, which communicates to your immune system and asks it to settle down. After this communication, the immune system relaxes and stops excessive mucus secretion to trap the foreign bodies and instead relies more on the natural sneezing process to expel them. However, when you are stressed, your body tends to overreact and secretes excessive mucus, which can cause cold and nasal blockage. Also, the yoga asanas are designed in such a way that vital organs and glands are massaged, relaxed, stimulated and supplied by fresh blood by the movements and form. The respiratory aspect of the yoga increases oxygen levels in the blood to various organs for optimal function. It also flushes toxins and mucus gathered in the vital body organs.
Take Your Breaks
Usually, in most classes, you will be flowing from a pose to another pose, so usually there won’t be any water breaks in between. And, most of the yoga sessions stretch beyond 45 minutes. The intense demands of the various yoga asanas can make you sweat profusely, which makes it important to drink water to keep hydrated. So, don’t wait for anyone to tell you to drink water. Instead, take a break on your own, drink water and get back into the pose. However, be careful against drinking too much water as it can make it uncomfortable to do couple of poses.
It’s Not Easy
As I have said earlier, yoga isn’t just about om-ing and chanting. Yes, there are several styles of yoga and some of them are designed for restorative purposes, but even in those, you will have to do series of forms that will make you work up a sweat. It is a demanding physical routine, which will always challenge your body and will make you work hard. And, if any pose feels easy, then ask for a change, make it more challenging. Hold that pose longer, stretch even more, work harder. And, usually, you won’t have to do it, as most of the yoga poses are pretty challenging on their own. There are yoga poses that are similar to high planks, low planks, side planks, one arm planks, lunges, side lunges, reverse lunges, backbends and yes, the famous head stands. So, next time, if anyone tells you that yoga is easy, bring them along and make them stand upside down. Or, ask them to do the wheel pose. That should be fun.
Everything Is Possible
Talking about the headstand, you know most of the people can do it. Of course, I don’t mean to say that you can just walk into a yoga studio and the next thing you know is that you are upside down and chatting about the last ‘Games of Thrones’ episode. What I mean to say is that with regular practice and determination, you can do any yoga pose. Yoga is as much about mental strength as it is about your physical ability. Dare yourself and will yourself. And, the next step is flip your legs in the air and try to do it. Forget about the things that you think are wrong. Stop thinking that you will embarrass yourself or even get hurt. Even, if you fail in doing so, don’t worry about it, it is a part of the process.
Far Reaching Benefits
The benefits of yoga extend well beyond the physical limits. Sure enough, it will make you stronger, more flexible, your stamina will be improved and so, will be your health. These are the only visible and direct benefits of yoga. There are some subtle positive effects of yoga that escape the physical plane and work in the mental and emotional zone as well. With the regular practice of yoga and meditation, you can have a mini, serene vacation at your home itself. It will make you feel peaceful, refreshed and reinvigorated with the stress and anxiety distant dreams.
Another benefit of yoga is that it teaches you awareness. No longer will your body swing from past to the future. Okay, well it will, after all, we all are humans. But, the frequency will decrease and you will learn to live without having to worry about what may happen. Yoga and pranayama increases your focus, and helps you live in present, without the urge to control everything and without desire to hold on to every small emotion. You learn to let it go.