And You Thought Yoga Was Just Stretching

While on​ the​ way to​ spot a​ friend of​ mine at​ the​ local YMCA,​ he asked why I didn’t just join the​ gym and I explained to​ him that I practice Yoga and occasional calisthenics at​ home for my exercises and really didn’t feel the​ need for a​ gym membership. His response was predictable: “Yoga…isn’t that just stretching?”

I smirked at​ the​ familiarity of​ the​ question and proceeded to​ explain to​ him the​ theme of​ this article. as​ I told him and for those who may not know otherwise: No,​ Yoga is​ way more than just stretching or​ getting into supposedly awkward looking poses and positions.

It is​ a​ combination of​ stretching,​ breathing exercises,​ meditation and perhaps the​ most overlooked limb,​ adherence to​ a​ proper diet.

The word yoga,​ from the​ Sanskrit word yuj means to​ yoke or​ bind and is​ often interpreted as​ a​ "union" or​ a​ method of​ discipline. Its ultimate goal is​ the​ union of​ man with God or​ the​ universe in​ one breath. Furthermore,​ it​ aims to​ liberate the​ spirit as​ the​ mind and spirit are equally involved in​ its practice.

Yoga is​ indeed the​ oldest existing physical-culture system in​ the​ world. Besides being a​ systematic and scientifically proven path to​ attaining physical fitness,​ it​ delays aging,​ rejuvenates and improves one’s appearance,​ maintains suppleness and increases vitality and the​ creative part of​ life.

With its core warm-up exercises known as​ the​ Sun Salutations (which are somewhat similar to​ the​ calisthenics exercise known as​ ‘burpees’),​ the​ inversion poses,​ forward and backward bending poses,​ balancing exercises for the​ arms and building focus,​ the​ average practitioner will attest to​ the​ fact that for attaining fitness,​ Yoga can stand its own.

Think Yoga can’t help with building strength? Think again. Heck,​ I challenge the​ most adept body-builder to​ hold the​ simple yet powerful peacock-pose for 90 seconds straight. Bet you they’d crash half-way in​ its execution-if they make it​ that far.

Yoga also offers unique breathing exercises which are wonderful for patients with respiratory disorders and even singers and public speakers,​ moreover with its unique relaxation pose,​ oft times practiced during and after its execution,​ Yoga offers a​ systematic means of​ deeply relaxing the​ entire body perhaps the​ way no other exercise can. (Keep in​ mind of​ course that several of​ the​ poses give a​ deep body massage not unlike the​ ones received in​ salons…just thought I should throw that in.)

With countless books,​ DVD’s,​ videos and classes being offered for all ages,​ levels of​ fitness and experience (some of​ them being actually free for the​ first couple of​ lessons to​ try Yoga out),​ I suggest you give it​ a​ trial and see for yourself what it​ can do.

One thing I promise you is​ this; you will walk out of​ your class and nod in​ agreement that indeed: “yoga is​ way more than just stretching.” it​ is​ the​ exercise.

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