A spiritual discipline established thousands of years ago, Yoga is the practice of unifying mind and body. The concept behind this ancient practice is that by healing and working the body, you are able to heal the mind of negativity simultaneously. This stems from the idea that if your body feels tense, it will be far more difficult for your mind to relax and find peace. Yoga is actually Sanskrit for “Yoke,” meaning union.
Originating in India, monks began the practice by seeking seclusion in the hopes of manifesting an ease of mind, and a strong body. In this practice, yoga was considered a form of meditation because it was nearly impossible to sit and meditate all day without experiencing pain or discomfort and, therefore, came yoga.
And while yoga is based on flow and consistency, there are certain movements and poses that are proven to be incredibly beneficial for specific ailments. For example, Camel Pose (in which you kneel on the floor with your knees hip width apart, rest your hands on your ankles and press the ribs and pelvis forward) is known to increase lung capacity, and stimulate the adrenal, pituitary, pineal and thyroid glands. Meanwhile, the “Half Lord of the Fishes” pose, which is focused on engaging your core through a deep twist, improves digestion by wringing out and stimulating your digestive organs. This pose also is known to alleviate back pain and unwind muscles in the lower back.
So, clearly there are a slew of poses and movements that can cater to your specific needs, and help ease your body and mind of discomfort. In general, Yoga benefits include:
• Increased Flexibility: We’ve all said it, “I’m not flexible enough for yoga.” But the whole point of yoga is practice and improvement, and can make a bettering your flexibility can have a huge impact on your everyday life. Flexible joints make movement easier and require less energy; it decreases risk of injury, and even helps increase blood and nutrient flow to tissue. To practice your flexibility, we suggest trying out Standing Forward Fold, which stretches your lower back and hamstrings or downward dog, which strengthens your shoulders and arms while stretching your hamstrings, calves and Achilles tendons.
• Detoxification: Forget your juice cleanses and detox pills, try out yoga instead! Yoga can help with everything from rinsing the spine, cleansing the liver, and flushing the kidneys. For maximum detoxification, we suggest poses such as Childs Pose, which aids in blood circulation or Revolved Side Angle, which flushes oxygen rich blood through digestive organs and removes toxins
• Muscle Toning: Let’s be honest- one of the best things about yoga is feeling and looking fit. For maximum muscle tone, a few poses that would be helpful include Boat Pose, which strengthens the abs and hips, or Dolphin Pose, which strengthens the core, arms and legs, while also opening the shoulders.
So, whether it be an at home practice, or a class with your friend, take International Yoga Day to roll out your mat, clear your mind and focus on what feels good.