When I turned on my computer at work, an article popped up about five women over the age of 70 that were healthier than the average person. I decided to take a look seeing my theme this month is health, and something really surprised me. All of these women had a very important thing in common; they all practiced daily yoga. I know I have mentioned that I like yoga, but I want to have a further discussion.
A while ago I bought a book called Beginner’s Guide To Yoga by Howard Kent & Claire Hayler (I had the full intention of reading this when I originally bought but I guess it slipped my mind). So at work today, I decided to read it. There were a lot of things that I of course did not know, was doing wrong, and things that were eye opening.
Yoga was first developed in India as a part of their religious culture becuase one of the benefits of yoga is the mind-body connection. When you are able to connect your mind with your body, you can unleash more energy to focus in your day to day life. These are the two parts of yoga: the physcial and the mental. For this month I am going to focus on the physical and at a later month discuss the mental.
Physically, yoga helps realign your body, strech and relieve tension, as well as helping your body relax. The key to all of this is your breathing. This book said that you should be aware of your breathing making sure not to breath too fast or short (I have a problem with this). It suggests to focus on a 10 second breathing exercise: in for 5 seconds and out for five seconds. This helps relieve the body of all stress and helps to focus on your excercises, posture, and the rest of your day.
One thing I was doing right according to the book was doing yoga as the first thing you do when you wake up (not eating first just yoga first). The book even recommended just doing at home excercises or asanas since you sometimes feel rushed trying to get to a yoga class first thing in the morning. The book gave all the exercises that I had already been doing on my iPhone app as well as the benefits of each exercise.
Another thing the book said was to slow down your poses and visualize the next pose instead of rushing to get out of the one you are currently doing. I have always had a problem with being in a rush when I workout because I wanted to get it over as fast as possible, but with yoga you are supposed to enjoy the stretching and poses and feel the tension releasing. I am going to try to visualize the poses and do them exactly as I visualize them (visualizing is one of the most important tools in sports if you didn’t know).
Also, I know I said in a past post that I wanted to get to the intermediate classes by the end of the project, but the book said something that blew me away. Yoga isn’t about competition or how good you are something, it is about bettering yourself and yourself alone. Two different people with two different skill levels in yoga get the same out of an advanced or beginner class. The point is to get better, but how would staying at the beginner level really help me improve myself? It won’t! So tomorrow I am going to attempt a longer advanced class and I am NOT going to focus on how unflexible I am, but instead focus on how I can improve.
Yoga provides so many benefits for our everyday life and truly is one of the healthiest exercises you can do. Unlike the high intensity cardio/strength training that takes everything out of you, these exercises are supposed to help you improve in the long term not the short term. Even though I won’t see many physical benefits from yoga right away, I know I will when I am over 70 years old and am one of the healthiest women in the world!