In this column, we like to emphasize the development of body, mind and spirit. This month we will be talking about a form of exercise that incorporates each of these elements: yoga.
The word “yoga” means “union, ” and in practice it is an union of the body, mind and spirit.
Many people practice yoga just for the exercise, and there is nothing wrong with that. If anything, it is very good for the body. The primary emphasis of yoga as an exercise is stretching. That means stretching the muscles, tendons and ligaments. Stretching keeps muscles soft and lubricated, which decreases the possibility of injury caused by the overuse of stiff muscles.
During a yoga session the stretching exercises and the holding positions (asanas) are often coordinated with breathing. Breathing deeply and slowly during the exercises helps to calm the mind and the body. It also allows us to be more aware of what is happening at the present moment. In other words, to be mindful.
People are also reading…
Being aware of the present while performing a yoga practice puts us in a position to enhance the spiritual aspect of the exercise. Our minds and our bodies are restful, and we are relaxed and aware of what is going on around us and within us.
This is the perfect state of mind plus body to be able to meditate. This has nothing to do with religion or any particular faith, yet people of any religion or people who have no religious practice at all are able to enjoy the benefits of yoga on mental, physical and spiritual levels.
Mary is a certified yoga instructor, so let’s find out what she has to say about the topic.
Empowered living thoughts
When people think about yoga they often imagine trying to twist themselves into impossible pretzel positions, but that is a misrepresentation. In truth, there are many different styles of yoga that vary in intensity and focus on the many facets of the practice. I firmly believe that everyone can benefit from yoga if it is utilized properly. Please don’t be discouraged if you have tried a class previously and found it to be too difficult.
I understand how overwhelming it can be when you are not familiar with the terms, postures or techniques. It can feel intimidating and maybe even a little humiliating if you are struggling to keep up with a fast-paced or very athletic class. This is within direct opposition to the goal of yoga. A successful exercise will provide a sense of calmness and increased focus, as well as bring your awareness to the present moment. This does not actually require any physical postures at all! Breathwork and meditation are extremely effective and beneficial on their own. They are both wonderful places to begin your journey with yoga. The physical part of yoga provides a great exercise program for the body and fosters an ability to be mindful, as it incorporates the other components of yoga exercise, working toward the union that Joe spoke of earlier.
It is for this reason that I encourage you to explore different styles of yoga until you discover those that suit you best. Perhaps you might like a yin class with only a few poses held for longer durations. Or maybe check out a restorative class along with props that can be adjusted to fit your comfort. There are even chair-based classes that allow you to remain seated for most or all of the practice. Please have patience and compassion with yourself as you strive to develop the practice of yoga exercises that is right for you.
You can begin with a simple meditation, or adding slow and controlled breathing along with gentle stretching. You only need to carve out as little as 10 minutes a day to focus on one or both of these activities to begin to feel the benefits! This is possible for you regardless of your age or physical fitness level. Contrary to popular belief, yoga is for every body!
Joe Sarnicola, of Auburn, is a certified spiritual life coach and meditation leader. He can be reached at [email protected] com or (315) 224-5071. Mary Pasqua Waldron is really a certified yoga teacher, reiki practitioner and producer/presenter of the “Empowered Living” podcast.