So you think yoga is just some existential brouhaha? Tell that to guys like Kevin Garnett, Dan Marino and Derek Rose who incorporate yoga into their physical fitness routines. It’s an exercise that can bliss out even the most hardcore jock. Plus, it’s a great workout, which can strengthen and de-stress just about anyone. Sarah Willis, a Brooklyn-based, avid practitioner and certified meditation and yoga teacher who travels the world leading yoga retreats and trainings, guides you through what you need to know before you get on the mat. Relax; we won’t make you twist into a pretzel!
Connect With Your Inner Self
Yoga is considered a mind-body healing practice to help people manage stress or anxiety and the physical tolls it can take on the body. If yoga has a belief system, it’s to become more connected to the body. Far from hokey, there are elements of philosophy and science involved and for some it’s a way of life. “The word Yoga, from Sanskrit, means ‘yoking together’, or ‘unifying,’” Willis explains. “We can look at it as unifying the mental and physical aspects of ourselves; internal and external worlds; our body, mind and spirit; psychological, physical and spiritual aspects of the self.”
Feel Better From Head to Toe
“Yoga’s postures are aimed at purification of the body,” Willis adds. “When practiced consistently over time, yoga can also help to eradicate physical and mental diseases.” Research has actually connected yoga with preventing or relieving heart disease and high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes and other chronic conditions.
You know how people tell you to take a couple of deep breaths when you’re stressing out and you seem to calm down instantly? It works because it keeps you from overreacting, but it allows your heart rate and blood pressure to stabilize, which also prevents the release of adrenaline and other stress hormones, Willis explains. Some yoga postures, such as inversions where the head is placed below the heart, pump blood into the glands that produce feel-good hormones like dopamine. Instant stress reliever!
For tips on how to get started, read on after the jump…