For Your Health
What’s so great about yoga, anyway?
-Jessica Ruby, Zen Zone
Women have asked me, with the most serious of expressions, “What is so great about yoga anyway? It looks so dull – I mean, women don’t even wear makeup or jewelry to class. Then you have to actually make an effort to get into those silly poses! Really, Jessica, what’s so great about dressing blah and straining myself to look like some big human pretzel?”
After pulling my foot from behind my ear – OK, more like my finger – and picking my jaw up off the floor, I take a deep breath in and contemplate all the reasons why I heart yoga. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:
1. Yoga is challenging to my body in a way that makes me feel alive! Each asana (pose) creates an opportunity to strengthen, tone or increase the flexibility of my muscles. And you should never feel like you’re straining in a pose. Always remember the practice of ahimsa, or nonviolence. That means allowing yourself to start where YOU are with the poses, rather than try to force your body to go as deeply into the poses as the person next to you is.
2. Yoga is challenging to my mind in a way that makes me feel more conscious and relaxed. As I focus on the movement from asana to asana, my mind is challenged to be quiet and still. The biggest opportunity for this is the ending pose, savasana (corpse/relaxation pose), along with the closing meditation.
3. Focusing on bringing more prana (breath) or more life into the body increases vitality and reduces stress. Not to mention the inner peace and calm confidence that practicing meditation awards the faithful yogini. You should feel energized yet relaxed after class.
4. For me, yoga = empowerment. I feel EMPOWERED on the mat. I feel connected to my own body, to like-minded seekers, to my capital S Self, to the divine that resides in us all.
5. And if that’s not enough, the way you look in the mirror as your body becomes more toned and sculpted is great motivation to maintain a regular yoga practice.
6. Altogether, yoga challenges me at the core of my being to be more conscious, aware and in tune, in hopes that this elevated state of being will continue throughout my day. Plus, it gives me new perspectives on life as I view it from right side up, upside down, sideways and all!
7. Yoga time is MY time – I can send the entire world out of my space and out of my head to enjoy this precious gift of self-care. Now, that’s worth its weight in gold!
But don’t just take my word for it – get out there to your local yoga class and see why I and millions of others around the globe proudly say “I HEART YOGA!”