Welcome to Wellness Wednesday! Today, we’re looking at yoga. This form of exercise is sometimes seen as just trendy stretching. But it has been linked to many health benefits, including aiding healthy blood sugar, lowering high blood pressure and high cholesterol and helping fight heart disease. This isn’t conjecture: the American Heart Association itself has recognized the value of yoga, as spoken about in this article by Castleview Hospital.
Yoga’s benefits for improving flexibility, soothing stress and helping core strength are largely common knowledge. The slow, controlled movements help people gain a better range of motion and the breathing techniques can aid mental wellbeing and focus according to The Indian Express.
Recently, yoga has been a hot topic. Many schools introduced yoga into gym classes and yoga-based mindfulness exercises to help students focus. However, parents, concerned about religious freedom, the more spiritual side of the practice and time it might take away from learning, raised concerns. Recently, The Atlantic took a look at the controversy.
Even stepping away from possible religious apprehensions, there are other perceived barriers to all of us doing the downward-facing dog. There is the worry about the monetary cost of yoga: the price of classes, the pants, the mat. But, there are classes at the YMCA, a Google search can find free classes in your area and there are videos on YouTube. As for the trappings: sweatpants or comfortable shorts are fine!
However, it should be noted that yoga mats aren’t just for show. They do serve a purpose; for people with balance issues, a yoga mat's slightly sticky surface can prevent slipping and injury. In a class, they can help you make sure you aren’t encroaching into your neighbors’ space. Yoga International broke down the pros and cons of yoga mats.
If you are following YouTube videos, you can experiment in your own home and see if a mat is right for you. If it is, one can be bought for a low cost on many internet sites or Amazon.
And of course, there is another barrier: the worry one might be too elderly or unfit to start doing yoga. When we picture yoga, we think of young people in leotards and yoga pants already trim and flexible. For some of us, it can be intimidating to think of ourselves surrounded by longtime fitness enthusiasts. But everyone’s goal is the same: to lead a happier, healthier life. With classes for different ages, skill levels and physical abilities, yoga is accessible for everyone from young children to senior citizens!
So, talk to your doctor and see if they think that yoga is right for you. You may find yourself in the triangle pose in no time at all!