Downward facing dog. Child posture. Tree pose. Breathe in—hold, breathe out. To an outsider, the movements seem awkward and the poses sound strange. It leaves a yoga novice wondering, is it worth the hype?
Yoga has increased in popularity in its thousands of years in existence, and has evolved from a part of the Hindu faith to a way to stay in shape.
And according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, engaging in meditation, which often accompanies yoga, could actually increase attention, brain function and reduce stress significantly.
“[Yoga] definitely relaxes your mind and body,” said Alex Hainzinger, Scott & White wellness programs specialist. “You can concentrate on your movements and stop thinking about everything else.”
Not only can yoga help you relax, but it also has numerous physical benefits.
“It can improve flexibility, range of motion and stamina,” Mr. Hainzinger said.
Unlike most other types of exercise, yoga doesn’t require any equipment.
“Your arms, legs and torso—they kind of act as the free weights,” he said. “So, you create resistance by moving your body. It helps to build muscular endurance.”
Even if the postures and movements may seem intimidating, Mr. Hainzinger said yoga is a great workout for any age or fitness level.
“Older people can use yoga to improve their mobility, especially if they have arthritis,” he said. “And you can even do yoga when you’re pregnant. It helps to relieve back pain from carrying the baby and helps to prevent depression and being overweight during pregnancy.”
And if you’re worried about being a beginner in a yoga class, Mr. Hainzinger said don’t be afraid to try it.
“A good yoga instructor is going to be able to modify the movements,” he said.
So, yoga sounds like a good idea, but you’re not sure where to begin. The wellness programs specialist suggests asking around.
“The best way to gather information is by asking people—co-workers, family members, or anybody you know who practices yoga on a regular basis,” he said.
And if you don’t know any yoga-ites, try inquiring at your local gym or health club.
“A lot of times they do informational sessions or a free session,” Mr. Hainzinger said. “That’s a good opportunity for beginners to ask the instructor questions.”
Have you tried yoga? Share your experiences and how you got started.