For once, I’d like to see a full-figured yogi on the cover of a magazine or DVD. Or maybe someone wearing mismatched clothing. Or struggling to touch her toes.
Because the reality is, you don’t need to be flexible, fit, or outfitted in expensive designer gear to practice yoga. In fact, your level of flexibility is not related to your skill in yoga at all. Rather, your ability to be skillful in yoga has more to do with the quality of mind and awareness you bring to your practice. It’s about the ability to listen inwardly and do what feels right in the moment. It’s about being true to yourself and discovering (and following) your best, most awesome life path.
As a yoga teacher, I also hear a lot of talk about the physically pleasing benefits of yoga: strong abs, killer biceps, and a tight bum. True enough, but such a narrow-minded view of this ancient practice sells it short.
Hatha yoga is a system of physical postures designed to develop not only physical, but also mental and spiritual well-being. Flexibility, strength, and balance of the mind, body, and spirit are all enhanced through regular practice. Over time, yoga also restores all of the body’s systems to optimal function, relieving many health complaints. Below is a list of some of yoga’s many benefits.
- Enhances flexibility and range of motion
- Cultivates balance
- Builds strength
- Speeds recovery from injury
- Creates symmetry between right and left, front and back, upper and lower parts of your body (being asymmetrical, and therefore unbalanced, creates stress and strain in the body because it requires parts of you to work harder while neglecting other parts. This can result in injury, pain, or discomfort)
- Relieves stress and muscular tension
- Improves overall physiological function of the body (i.e., improves circulation, digestion, metabolism, balances hormones, etc.)
- Improves posture
So, with the holidays right around the corner, and New Year’s resolutions to follow, consider starting a yoga practice not only because you think it’ll make you look great. But because it will make you feel great, inside and out.