Are you yoga-curious? Intrigued by all of the buzz about yoga but not sure if it is for you? Here are four reasons to give yoga a try, like today:
Yoga can be done by anyone—truly anyone. One of our mentors gives private yoga lessons to a bedridden woman. How can she do yoga? Coordinating breath with movement, emptying the mind of distractions, concentrating on extending muscles and moving joints (the facility of which increases with practice) are the foundations of the physical part of yoga. These are things that can be done on the bus, in your cube, or in the bed that you rarely leave. I need a whole other blog to rant against the lack of diversity of the people in yoga magazines and who get covered in popular culture. But in the real world, yoga is done by paraplegics, people with MS, and nonagenarians. It is done by athletes, veterans, and toddlers. Yoga isn’t just for skinny young women in expensive workout pants. It is for you. Ganesha offers classes that can be adapted for anyone: Gentle Chair Yoga, Plus-Size Yoga (Ganesha Plus), Yoga Therapy, and the list goes on. Check out our full list of classes and our weekly class schedule.
Yoga is a gentle way to begin getting more active, if that is your ultimate goal. Let us first say that yoga doesn’t have to lead to any other activity—it is perfectly fine on its own, thank you very much. But if you would like to be more active, or perhaps to enjoy physical activity more, yoga can definitely play a supporting role. In addition to stretching the muscles, yoga also lubricates the joints and develops balance. Holding up the weight of your own body in the poses builds strength, while moving more rapidly through the postures can elevate your heart rate. We like to call yoga a “gateway exercise.” So while yoga can be the entirety of what you do to move your body, it can also give you a base of flexibility, coordination, strength, and endurance to try other types of activities. Check out Ganesha’s Gentle Yoga and Yoga Basics classes.
Yoga can improve some disease conditions The list of diseases that yoga can positively impact is long. In fact, it might be easier to list the conditions that yoga hasn’t been shown to improve. Google most anything in this format “research yoga for ____________” and insert asthma, PTSD, heart disease, arthritis, depression, MS, sleeplessness, diabetes, or cancer, and you are likely to find something that shows its effectiveness. Am I saying that yoga cures cancer? No. But yoga’s super power is helping people manage stress and pain. And having cancer is both painful and mentally and physically stressful. Yoga can improve sleep, stress resilience, and shift how pain is perceived. If it were a pill, we would pay a LOT of money for it. So yes, yoga is likely to positively impact whatever it is you have going on. Try our Ganesha Rx class if you have active injuries or a disease/condition that impacts you. The teachers at Ganesha practice trauma-informed yoga by following best practices while leading classes and interacting with students
Yoga can keep you young. Yup, I said it. From the textbook Human Anatomy and Physiology, “Exercise that coaxes joints through their full range of motion…is the key to postponing the immobilizing effects of aging on ligaments and tendons, to keeping cartilage well nourished, and to strengthening the muscles that stabilize the joints.” All forms of yoga directly impact these structures of the body. Additionally, the rib cage can become more rigid with age, which causes shallow breathing and humped-over posture. Deep, controlled breathing is one of the only exercises that effectively move the muscles between the ribs (the intercostals), and a regular yoga practice can keep those muscles supple for the long haul. We are also seeing promising research that links yoga and meditation to positive changes in regions of the brain that control learning, memory, emotional regulation, aggression, anxiety, and empathy. The cool bit about the study in the article is that they chose people who had never meditated before, not Buddhist monks who had been honing their practice for 20 years. In eight weeks, their brains changed.
So, give a yoga class a try. You won’t have to chant, or hold a position that looks like Twister, or buy a whole new workout wardrobe. Come as you are—yoga will take you. If you’re in the Chicago area, stop by our studio at 2054 W. Irving Park Road.