June 2, 2016
Why You (And Everybody You Know) Needs Yoga
So we all have those friends/family/colleagues who are skeptical of yoga (and if we’re being honest, if we fall out of the habit of our practice, sometimes it can be hard to start back up). But yoga truly is for EVERY BODY. Here are some groups of people who could really benefit from a yoga practice of their own!
The biggest fear of any athlete is injury. Yoga is basically designed to reduce the likelihood of injury. It increases both flexibility and stamina, so you can push your body to the limit doing your favorite sport without reservation! Injury can take you off the field/court/etc. for a long time; yoga can keep you safely in the game.
Much like athletes, those getting up in years have joints that need extra protecting. With yoga, the young-at-heart can strengthen the muscles surrounding their joints so that the joints can function smoothly and their body maintains mobility. Yoga also builds on another very crucial muscle type – those that manage balance. A regular yoga practice can help you avoid falls, and help you get back on your feet faster if you do find yourself on the ground.
The other end of the age spectrum can also benefit immensely from yoga! Children are naturally flexible and it is a critical time to be building a sound foundation for their bodies for the years to come. While yoga strengthens their bodies, it will simultaneously instill some very important values: patience, confidence, problem-solving, self-regulation, and routine, among others. There are increasing numbers of yoga studios who teach classes for children, or it could be a new and special parent-child bonding activity!
As children grow older, school and extra curricular activities and social pressures all get harder and more taxing — on the body and the spirit. Even if just done for 20 minutes before heading to an exam or in between homework subjects, yoga can provide a calming and centering moment to catch your breath and let go of some tension. A regular yoga practice can create a sense of structure and balance that can be highly soothing in the crazy, hectic world of education.
Another demographic known for their frenetic lives are parents. Especially with young and/or multiple children, parents often find themselves overwhelmed and totally drained. Yoga combines relaxation with reinvigoration, energizing as it de-stresses. When the kids are down for a nap or out at a friend’s house, stealing those few minutes to practice your favorite poses can refresh and recenter you so you’re ready for the inevitable next round of turbulence.
The Ill or Injured
Whether it’s a busted knee, or Lyme disease, or a lifelong battle with depression, yoga can be an excellent first line of defense and recovery. Of course you should still go see a doctor. But when you’re back home and feeling helpless or restless or any of the other myriad feelings that accompany being down for the count, yoga can ground you to alleviate those feelings, as well as stimulate important body response mechanisms that can help you heal or recuperate. Studies are showing that having a regular practice can also soothe you and aid in staving off a resurgence of illness, especially in the mental sphere. As B.K.S. Iyengar said, “Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.”
A major demographic that struggles with a variety of mental and physical illnesses and ailments are the heroes of our nation. Military veterans often have an indescribably difficult time with reentry to civilian life, and that bumpy ride can be made much, much worse by illness and injury. Lots of VA centers are implementing yoga in their programs, and for good reason: it rebuilds confidence in one’s own body and quiets an unsettled and distressed mind. Also, having a new routine can give essential importance and meaning to a veteran trying to readjust, and yoga practice can be a key step for anyone endeavoring to promote a lifetime of stability for themself.
So, you may be sitting there scratching your head at the inclusion of this group. Yoga teachers? Don’t they live submersed in a yogic lifestyle? Well, the truth is, in their mission to bring the bliss of yoga to the world, many yoga teachers start to neglect their own practices in favor of being able to teach more classes. But if your own self-care and -upkeep slip through the cracks, you might not be able to nourish your students properly or hold the space for those in your class to be able to explore their own yoga as deeply. If you’re a busy yoga teacher, make sure you create time for your own yoga on and off the mat!
We’ve only touched on a few demographics here, but a lot of the advantages of yoga for these different groups of people overlap — and some benefits of yoga, like stress reduction and balance increase, are obviously positive things for any person from any walk of life. Each and every body can do their own form of yoga, even if it’s just the practices of mindfulness and meditation! Yoga can be a physical practice on the mat, but it can also be a lifestyle choice. Spread the word: yoga is for everybody!
(Got a group in mind that I didn’t discuss? Leave a comment!)