The practice of yoga has been around for thousands of years. The universal appeal of yoga comes from the fact that it can benefit mind, body, and spirit. Although it’s also a great complement to many other sports and activities, yoga can be done by almost anyone. Yoga is not just about movement. It also involves breathing exercises and relaxation techniques. These three are considered to be the main elements of yoga. All are practiced together and are equally important. It’s natural for people to assume that movements are what yoga is all about because that’s the part you see. Movement made up of poses benefit the body.
Poses are usually done slowly and gently. Some are held for a short period of time. Yoga poses work in many ways on all parts of the body. They have been shown to increase strength and improve flexibility and balance. Some yoga positions like bridge or triangle are named after common objects or shapes. Others like downward dog or tree are named for living things or natural objects.
Breathing plays an integral part of every yoga session, including both movement and relaxation. As you do the various yoga poses, you are instructed to breathe slowly and deeply, focusing your attention on your breath. This helps to distribute oxygen to all parts of the body and helps you attain maximum flexibility. Specific breathing exercises are also included in most yoga sessions. These exercises are designed to strengthen the lungs and cleanse the body. But one of the most important functions of breathing in yoga is to deepen your feeling of relaxation.
Yoga is more physically challenging than it looks, so yoga sessions always end with a short relaxation period. This is to rest the body while at the same time calming the mind. This part of the yoga session may include visualization and meditation, but always includes some focus on breathing. With visualization, you are encouraged to picture peaceful scenes or images. These could be things like waves lapping on a shore, or clouds floating by in the sky. Meditation involves emptying the mind of distracting thoughts or worries and focusing inward. Many people find it helpful to focus on their breathing in order to meditate.
Yoga complements many other sports and physical activities. While you won’t learn to go faster or harder with yoga, it will help you to become more flexible and more coordinated, as well as strengthening your bones and muscles, all of which can lead to better performance in other areas.
One of the main benefits of yoga is that practically anyone of any age can do it. You start from where you are and build from there. You aren’t competing with anyone else when you do yoga. Instead you move at your own pace. That means that you can make your own yoga practice very challenging or go slowly if that’s where you are.
Why not give the practice of yoga a try and find out how much it can do for your mind, body and spirit?
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