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It seems like everyone under the sun is hitting the yoga mat as often as they do their Starbucks daily latte. And with September being National Yoga Month, the buzz just keeps on buzzing! But if you’ve never taken a class or maybe even if you have, you might not realize that yoga will do more for you than a trendy, caffienated cup of coffee.
Going back some 5,000 years ago, yoga began as a way to heal the community by way of spiritual guidance. Buddhism introduced meditation and physical postures to achieve enlightenment. Yoga during the Pre-Classical Period was intended to help people escape the hardships of life. After that, the Yoga Sutra was created during the Classical Period giving yoga more definition. Asanas or movements, Pranayama (controlled breath), and lessons on concentration, meditation and ectasy become more recognized. During the Post-Classical Period, yoga added to that by focusing on living more in the moment.
Although there are many different kinds of yoga, it’s the series of movements combined with your pranayama breath where we learn how it truly gives us the benefits of spiritual, physical and mental health. Through these series or flow of yoga poses you feel like you can tackle anything that comes your way. But you may not be sure why. Yes, the gentle stretching and strengthening feels good but what exactly does Downward-Facing Dog do for you? In the Downward-Facing Dog pose, your neck and spine are straight and relaxed and your head is below your heart. Because of this light inversion, circulation is increased to your brain giving you a rush of feel-good endorphins making you more alert and energetic. Another common pose you see is the triangle pose. Who knew this tilted side-opener could give you better digestion, pain relief due to flat feet and relief from sciatica (compression of the nerves next to your spine)?
Each pose is there for a purpose and investigating what yoga can specifically do for you can only better your practice. And what better time to practice than during National Yoga Month? To help get you on a yoga mat, go to yogahealthfoundation.org. The Yoga Health Foundation is offering a free week of yoga at one of your local yoga studios in honor of this Om-tastic month! Breathe easy and get your yoga on!
(Photo Credits: forearm stand and one-leg stand by ATurner, triangle pose by Darrin Henry and downward dog by Jeanne Hatch. Shutterstock.com.)