Balance Your Life With Yoga
Chances are you have already heard of yoga or know someone who practises it. Maybe you’re even considering making the leap yourself? Perhaps you are looking to increase your mental wellbeing and vitality? Or perhaps you’re looking to sleep better or trying to find a way to relieve your back pain?
Yoga addresses all these things and more. From helping your posture and breathing to keeping you calm to help fight off stress, it’s no wonder that yoga continues to grow in popularity.
“More people are doing yoga now than ever before,” yoga teacher and author Sujantra McKeever tells THE FRANK GAZETTE. “We see this at our studios in San Diego. Our attendance has risen each year over the past 10 years.”
According to the 2016 Yoga in America Study conducted by the Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance, there was a huge increase in the number of people practising yoga and size of the yoga industry generally compared with the previous 2012 study. In fact, more than 36 million people in the USA practise yoga, compared with 20.4 million in the 2012 study.
Given the fast-paced stresses of the modern world it’s no wonder that the popularity of yoga shows no signs of abating.
“So many individuals are experiencing a rather hectic lifestyle that they are looking for something that they believe could help slow them down,” dietician, nutritionist and author Keri Gans tells THE FRANK GAZETTE. Gans is a certified yoga teacher in New York City with more than 20 years of yoga experience.
According to Gans yoga is best known to improve flexibility and build muscle strength.
“It may also boost your mood, create mind-body awareness, improve balance, and be beneficial for bone health,” said Gans.
According to McKeever there are four main aspects of yoga. These are the physical postures, breath control, meditation, and philosophy.
“Each of these has specific benefits, but overall the practice of yoga will bring balance strength and flexibility to our bodies, minds, and hearts,” said McKeever.
McKeever’s favorite aspect of yoga is the peace of mind that comes with regular practice.
“The majority of my yoga practice is time spent in meditation which brings peace of mind and relief from stress and anxiety,” said McKeever. “I use physical postures and breathing exercises to balance out my body, breath, and emotions. I always tell my students that whatever kind of yoga you want to practice is great, the important thing is that you’re practicing.”
As a long-time practitioner Gans still loves the fact that she never gets bored with yoga.
“Every time you show up on your mat it is an opportunity to learn something new and you are constantly being challenged,” said Gans. “Yoga teaches you to connect with your body and acceptance of one’s self. It helps you realize when you should probably push yourself harder or when you should totally lay back and modify a pose. It can be awfully humbling.”
McKeever first became interested in yoga when he was growing up in San Francisco. He tells THE FRANK GAZETTE that in order to deal with the social stresses of high school life, he would go on long runs where he would focus on his breathing and practised yoga breathing techniques.
“I found that these exercises brought me peace of mind,” said McKeever. “Because of the musculature in my lower spine and the slight imbalance due to mild scoliosis in my lumbar region, I also started to invest my time in physical yoga exercises.”
When Gans was in her late thirties she was struggling with infertility and thought the practice of yoga could help.
“Believe it or not, it was not love at first sight!” said Gans. “Eventually though I found teachers that were inspiring and the rest is history.”
If you are considering starting yoga, McKeever suggests that you start where you are.
“Often we set our expectations on ourselves so high that we never begin our journey,” said McKeever. “So, try to begin spending five or 10 minutes of your day doing meditation or breathing exercises or practicing postures.
“For those who choose to go to a yoga studio, I suggest going to a group yoga class twice a week. That will help you build up enough strength and knowledge to enjoy the practice of yoga.”
When McKeever teaches meditation he always says that it’s still better to do even five minutes than nothing.
“Begin where you are and soon your practice will grow as you experience the benefits,” said McKeever.
Gans suggests that you at least try a beginner’s class to get started even if you think you are in excellent shape, mainly because the many different postures can be confusing at first.
“Don’t let the first class be the deciding factor as to whether or not you continue on this path, since there are so many different types of practices and teachers and not all may be the right fit for you,” said Gans. “Yoga videos or podcasts at home can be great, but if possible first try a class or two to learn proper alignment.”
So, no matter the season or no matter your age or stage, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t give yoga a try! Whether it is going to your first class, or taking part in activities, such as the Yoga Burn Challenge, or even just starting with a few online videos, there are plenty of yoga opportunities to help you take control of your body and mind. Go for it! There has never been a better time to stretch yourself!
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