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What is Yoga?

Yoga is a mind-body practice with historical origins in ancient Indian philosophy. Hatha yoga is the branch of yoga that includes physical poses, also called asanas, and is the most widely practiced branch of yoga in the West. Most Hatha yoga classes are a combination of physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation.

And then within the physical practice of yoga, there are different styles of Hatha yoga – some are intense and vigorous, while others are relaxing and meditative. The practice of yoga is one that can be tailored or modified to suit each individual’s needs, regardless of age or fitness level. No matter which type you choose, yoga is a wonderful way to stretch and strengthen your body while simultaneously calming the mind.

Yoga Benefits

Yoga can make you stronger, flexible, more focused and alert. It can help you to stay limber and energetic as well. Yoga can also help improve these conditions:

  • Poor blood circulation
  • High blood pressure
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Limited mobility
  • Lower back pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Headaches
  • Tension or stress
  • Depression

Yoga is good for people who haven’t been active in a while. It’s also good for people who have certain health conditions like arthritis or osteoporosis. A benefit of yoga is that you can change your exercises to fit your needs. As you become stronger and more flexible with yoga, it becomes easier to do other kinds of exercise like dancing, walking, or swimming.

Yoga can help you:

  • Reduce your risk for injury. Each yoga pose targets specific muscles. This helps you increase your flexibility and reduce your risk for injury.
  • Reduce stress. Yoga can help soothe the mind and lower stress levels. It does this by focusing the mind on the moment and the movements. In scientific studies, people practicing yoga had a greater ability to relieve high cortisol and reduce other parameters of stress.
  • Increase your concentration. A main part of yoga is rhythmic, focused breathing. This can help you focus.
  • Understand the mind and body connection. Yoga requires you to focus all your energy on each movement or pose exactly. This can help you feel the mind and body work together.
  • Gain strength and stamina. More vigorous styles of yoga promote strength and stamina.
  • Improve balance and stability. Balancing poses require you to use your core muscles. This can help you improve your overall stability.
  • Improve posture. Yoga poses strengthen and open tight areas of the body like the shoulders and muscles of the upper back. This can help you keep good posture.
  • Develop body awareness. Yoga requires you to contract or relax specific muscles as you stretch into each pose. This can help you become more aware of your body’s strengths and weaknesses.