Yoga is for every-body
Some time ago, I was in a chiropractor’s office with acute low back pain. Years of running long distance outdoors was wearing on my spine. Along the course of treatment, more than one doctor suggested I consider yoga as a path to healing.
Out of sheer desperation for relief of pain, I made my way to a studio. While I began my yoga practice seeking relief from physical pain, I quickly learned that it offered value far beyond the physical.
Yoga is an ancient physical and spiritual practice that reportedly originated in India more than 5,000 years ago. The word yoga means to unite, yoke or join. A physical yoga practice is a safe, non-competitive, non-judgmental way to integrate body with mind and mind with soul. Practicing physical yoga regularly did heal my body, but the unexpected surprise was how it reached all areas of my life.
While I was healing my physical body on the mat, I learned things that I carried into my day. I learned that I felt more alive and vibrant when I breathed deeply. I learned where I held tension in my body and how I could use that awareness to unclench in my daily life.
I learned that sometimes the stories running in my head were causing me to get in my own way and that I had the power to create new story lines. I learned that I wasn’t always kind to my body and that I deserved to change that. I learned that I was complete and okay exactly as I was on any given day. I learned that the new, improved ways I was treating myself positioned me to treat others even better. I learned that yoga has magical, transformational powers.
Studies of the benefits of yoga have shown it to improve strength, flexibility, balance, energy, mood, digestion, weight, sleep, sexuality and body awareness and acceptance.
A 2008 study by Yoga Journal indicated that of the 15.8 million people who practice yoga, roughly 72% are women and 28% are men. The somewhat high number of male yogis may be surprising to those who view yoga as a “feminine” pursuit. The study also showed that the majority of participants are between 18-54 years old, but nearly 20% of those studied were older than 55.
These numbers prove that men and women of all ages and physical abilities practice yoga. The Browns do it. The Cavs do it. Celebrities do it. Moms do it. Dads do it. Grandparents do it. Children do it. People with disabilities do it. Turns out, 16 million Americans do it.
Yoga really is for every-body.
Tina Gonzales is a certified yoga teacher.