What exactly is yoga?

Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word “yuj,” (pron. “yug”) meaning “to unite.” Yoga is a practice that unites the body and the mind. It involves physical movements that work to lengthen and tone the muscles in the body while maintaining connection to the breath, which works to relax and de-stress the mind. So in short, yoga is an exercise for both the physical and emotional self.

How did you get involved in yoga?

 I seriously took to my mat and started doing yoga after a serious relationship went south. It was the only activity I did that gave me a reprieve from the sadness and heartbreak I was experiencing. Many yoga teachers spoke about loving and accepting your body as it is in the moment, and that idea really resonated with me and began my healing process. I quickly learned that yoga isn’t just about stretching your body into pretzel-like shapes; it was about learning to respect your boundaries and love yourself unconditionally. My mat was a safe place for me to experience my feelings, learn to let go of judgmental thoughts, and find what felt good in my body while getting more in shape.

I’m not very flexible so I can’t do yoga.

I hear this all the time, and it makes me want to laugh out loud! When I first began doing yoga, I wasn’t flexible at all. The answer to this question is simple: Practice. A little stretching each day goes a very long way, and I have seen amazing progress with students of mine within two to three weeks of practicing. Additionally, yoga is first and foremost a practice of breathing, so anyone who can breathe can do yoga.

What do I need to do yoga?

You’ll need a mat (I recommend using a 6 cm mat to protect the knees), a few feet of space, and an open mind. There are props such as bolsters and blocks that can aid your practice, and they are can be found easily online or in yoga studios/ athletic apparel stores such as Athleta and Lululemon.

I prefer high intensity/ cardio workouts, so I don’t think yoga is for me…

Almost all other forms of exercise tighten and shorten the muscles in the body, and often injuries sneak up when you least expect it when muscles are stressed due to overuse. Yoga works to reverse that phenomenon that slowly stretching the muscles open, thereby increasing blood flow and oxygen circulation to allow energy to flow freely in the the body and promote healing.Many yoga postures are often more challenging than they appear, and it’s easy to dismiss yoga as “lazy guy exercise” when in fact, it actually works the body from the most challenging place: within. Yoga teaches students how to engage the deepest layers of muscles tissue to work the body from the outside in and as a totally body workout.

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