YOGA: GIVE PEACE A CHANCE
Warning: Adult language
Please do not read any further if you are offended by adult language.
Not gonna lie, the only reason I tried yoga in the first place was that I truly wasn't into exercising and thought that it'd be easy. Hahaha! Oh did that theory get squashed.
My very first stab at yoga would have left even the most controlled and proper individual in total hysterics. I was trying to contort my 262 pound body into positions that were not only foreign to me but damn near impossible. My limbs were shaking and sweat was pouring off of me. In between grunts, groans, and whimpers, there was a continuous flow of swear words and colorful combinations of said swear words. I think I even made up a few new ones. It was quite impressive actually.
I think it's safe to say I wasn't feeling very zen after my first yoga attempt. The body, mind, and soul connection was severely lacking. Instead of leaving me feeling enlightened, it left me needing a friggin' gurney.
I quickly dreaded doing yoga because of how hard it was for me. I was fat and looking for a way to lose weight, I wasn't interested in the 'calming and inner peace thing' that was usually associated with yoga. I thought it was gonna be easy and it wasn't. But I figured anything that can make me sweat like a pig was gonna burn calories too. So I stuck with it.
After time it got a lot easier. I became more flexible and could actually perform the moves without wanting to die. After you start to get the physical part of it, then you start to experience the stress-reduction and calmness part of it. It's like anything else in life. The more you do it, the better you get at it.
Yoga was one of my main forms of exercise in the very beginning of my weight loss journey. I was practicing yoga nearly everyday.
As of late, I've moved away from yoga. I moved my focus onto more of a hardcore traditional training schedule and put my yoga on the back burner. I recently picked it back up again and I realize how much I've missed it. I regret not keeping up with it. It's back in my regular exercise regimen and that's where it's gonna stay.
I asked my husband Jay to do an hour of yoga with me the other day. I was shocked when he agreed. He was beyond surprised at how hard his body had to work to get through the hour. Just like my first time, he had sweat pouring off of him. His shirt was completely soaked through with sweat and it was dripping off his ears, nose, and lips. His grunts and pleas for help had me rolling. He kept asking me why he was sweating so much... and if anyone ever died from doing yoga. He was dead ass serious. LOL! Every few minutes he would shoot me looks that begged me to tell him he could stop. No way, buddy, you're finishing this shiz.
I personally think of all exercises, yoga is one of the most misconceived and underestimated. Many people discount it as a valid exercise and envision yoga practicers sitting with legs crossed and chanting 'om' all day. Well, to those of you who think that way, I challenge you to try an hour of yoga and still believe that nonsense.
Yoga kicks your ass.
Yoga uses meditation as one of it's fundamental bases, but it demands a sturdiness, steadiness, brawn, and power from your muscles that traditional exercises can't even come close to. It's a completely different animal and it complements a 'traditional fitness' workout schedule perfectly.
Countless elite athletes have included yoga into their regimen, not only to build a different type of muscular strength and endurance, but to also enable muscles to stretch deeper and farther. This increased flexibility prevents injuries and allows the body to push further.
In addition, a multitude of celebrities have adopted yoga as their main form of exercise. Being as they need to keep their bodies flawless, yoga works perfectly. Yoga not only helps you lose weight but also maintain weight, all the while sculpting your body and giving you a gorgeous, sinewy muscle definition.
Yoga challenges your muscles on a physical level which adds amazing strength and pliancy, but it also allows a deeper connection to your spiritual state. I think we all can agree that true strength isn't just defined as our physical capabilities. True strength comes from our strong will, our convictions, and our ability to stand by what is right even in times that inconvenience us. A strong mind makes a strong person.
WHAT IS YOGA?
Yoga originated in India over 5000 years ago to promote a profound, holistic system of health. It was developed as a system of mental and physical exercise to create balance, symmetry, and harmonization between body, mind, and soul.
The word yoga means 'yoke', which is translated to mean 'to join' or 'unite'. It's believed that it is only when there is a union of the body, mind, and soul, that true happiness and understanding can present itself to you.
Yoga is not a religion. Rather, it is a means to discover self-realization in both the unbodied and physical states. It has long been accepted that body, mind, and spirit are interconnected with each other and they desperately need to be in a state of equilibrium for balance of self to be in effect.
Yoga is based on 3 fundamentals:
Breathing marks an essential requirement for getting optimal results from practicing yoga. Focusing on breathing while you are moving and holding positions helps your control in those movements, which prevents injury. The muscles work with the nervous system for greater coordination and balance. Breath is 'Prana' or vital force. Oxygen is the most vital nutrient in our bodies.
If we focus on breathing, thoughts and emotions are cut off so that the mind can focus on calm awareness. If you are only aware of your breath, then all the stressful thoughts that usually are on the forefront of your mind fall away.
Exercise is a huge component of yoga. Yoga demands your body to hold positions while standing, sitting, lying down, or even while doing a headstand. It requires great physical strength to hold these positions for long periods of time. As with anything, you start where you are. Start small and work up from there.
If you are not physically strong when you begin a yoga routine, you will be afterwards. Guaranteed. In addition to greater strength, you will also have more flexibility, balance, and energy.
Meditation is when you allow yourself to enter inside your mind and focus on making your mind still. It is in the still of your mind where you can reach a greater sense of self, a sense of purpose, and a stronger will.
You can wipe your mind clean of all the junk that clogs up your brain on an everyday basis so that you can find the wisdom and calmness within you.
TYPES OF YOGA
There are many, many forms of yoga: Raja, Jnana, Bhakti, Karma, Tantra, Kashmir Shavism, etc. But Hatha yoga (pronounced hut-ha) is the most commonly practiced yoga in the western world. It is estimated that there are more people doing Hatha yoga in the state of California than in the entire country of India. Over 16 million Americans regularly practice yoga. The word Hatha is translated to mean 'forceful' or 'willful'.
Hatha is broken down in two parts; 'ha' meaning sun and 'tha' meaning moon. Hatha yoga is one of the most physical of the yoga disciplines. It consists of many 'asanas' or postures that strengthen the body and stretch the muscles. This promotes lean muscle mass and a beautifully sculpted and defined body. Holding these positions for lengths of time causes the body to release endorphins, the body's natural pain killers.
Hatha yoga involves postures such as standing, backward and forward bends, twists, inverted postures, etc. Holding these positions builds strength and flexibility. But the aim of Hatha yoga is not solely for physical strength, it also strives to bring the body, mind and soul together in a perfect balance. This gives you greater control over yourself and your emotions.
How much yoga should you be doing?
In order to gain the most health benefits, you should to be practicing yoga 2-3 times per week for 60 minutes. However, any amount is beneficial on some level. Don't worry, you will come to love it and want to do it more. It is the ultimate 'me time'.
BENEFITS OF YOGA
Uh, ya, not sure I have enough time to list all of them. I will name the most prevalent benefits to give you an idea what kind of effect yoga can have on your health. Yoga really is amazing.
- Increases strength
- Increases flexibility
- Helps speed up weight loss
- Builds lean muscle mass (which burns more calories)
- Reduces stress
- Improves circulation
- Increases lung capacity (greatly improves quality of life for asthmatics)
- Lowers hypertension/blood pressure
- Prevents osteoporosis
- Lowers pain levels
- Helps tremendously with depression and anxiety
It's hard to deny the weight loss possibilities once you see how much sweat is involved. Your body works so damn hard to hold those poses.
Working Hard = Burning Calories. It's a beautiful thing.
A couple of amazing facts:
- People who suffer from chronic pain disorders benefit greatly from regular yoga. In fact, according to the Clinical Journal of Pain, studies have shown that pain sufferers who began practicing yoga regularly, reduced physician visits by 36%.
- The Behavioral Medicine Journal (volume 16) reports a 50% reduction in doctor visits among depression and anxiety patients after they began a yoga regimen.
Yoga has been shown on average to increase an individual's lifespan.
I mean come on, this will help you live longer! Seriously, who isn't on board with this? But even more importantly, yoga improves our quality of life, increases our vitality, and gives us a greater sense of well-being.
Yoga is a completely different exercise than you're used to and it just may be the change that your body (and mind) is looking for. If you have never tried yoga before, I encourage you to try it out.
Give it a shot. If you don't like it, at least you can say you gave it an honest try. And let's be real, we all could use the exercise... and we all sure as hell could use some stress relief.
In today's world, we are all bogged down with a heavy weight of worries, we rush through our day zipping from one obligation to another, and we never stop moving to just be... still. We never stop to hear the silence, shut our brains off, or enjoy one blessed moment.
Before you know it, we move into a new month, or a new season and we can't vividly remember even one single day. It's all a blur. How in the world are you ever expected to see the answers to your life with blurred vision?
Yoga allows you to shut your eyes and yet see everything clearly.
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*The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content in this article is for general information purposes only. I am not a doctor, nor am I a dietitian. Talk to your physician before making any changes in your diet or exercise regimen. The information found in this article is from various sources which include, but are not limited to, the sites listed above. I encourage you to do your own research and talk with your physician before making any changes in diet or exercise. What has worked for me may not work for you. This information in this article or on this website should never replace or serve as medical advice.
NEVER DISREGARD PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE OR DELAY SEEKING MEDICAL TREATMENT BECAUSE OF SOMETHING YOU HAVE READ ON OR HAVE ACCESSED THROUGH THIS WEB SITE.