11 reasons to wrap your mind around practicing yoga

11 reasons to wrap your mind around practicing yoga

So you can’t twist your body into the human pretzel or do headstands? Luckily, those aren’t requirements for practicing yoga. “You don’t have to be flexible to do yoga,” says Leslie Hughes, studio manager at highly rated Joy Yoga Center in Houston. “Yoga is not all about the physical aspect. In fact, the physical aspect is only one of the eight limbs of yoga. Yoga means union, and is a lifestyle rather than a physical practice.”

Experts say yoga provides numerous benefits in their daily lives. “The more I have studied yoga, the more I appreciate it as a vast body of knowledge and wisdom, a philosophy of life that is as useful today as it was 4,000 years ago,” says Gayle Burdick, teacher and studio director of highly rated Laurel Yoga Studio in St. Paul, Minn. If you need any more convincing to get on the mat, yoga offers benefits in many areas of physical and mental health — from strength to sleep.

11 benefits

• Increase your strength

• Become more flexible

• Reduce stress

• Sleep more soundly

• Improve your sex life

• Maximize your mindfulness

• Get relief from chronic pain

• Gain coordination

• Calm your mind

• Achieve better balance

• Love your body

Not sure where to start? Many different types of yoga exist, and experts recommend trying a few to find the right fit. Yoga therapist Linda Steinberg of highly rated Yoga to the Tenth in Watertown, Mass., teaches private sessions of partner assisted yoga. “Partner assisted yoga is different from most other forms of yoga,” Steinberg says. “It integrates yoga with stretching techniques, specifically the use of poses to achieve maximum stretches. In my approach, I work with a client to create resistance while in the pose, thus allowing for the maximum stretch while actually strengthening the muscle.”

If you’re trying yoga for the first time, tell the teacher about any current pain, chronic tension patterns or major injuries, Burdick says. “Things can be modified, for example, to avoid low back pain,” she says. “It’s also a good idea to let the teacher know if you have an emotional history that includes physical assault or other abuse that makes it challenging for you to focus on your body or to have the teacher touch your body.” Hughes tells first-time yogis not to be afraid to ask questions, to bring a towel in case you sweat and be patient with yourself. Be sure you have the time to devote to practice, Burdick says. “Yoga will not bring more peace into your life if adding it into your schedule just increases your stress.” Namaste.






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