Why would you want to twist yourself like a pretzel? According to the Yoga Alliance, there are many good reasons:
Stress relief: Yoga reduces the levels of cortizol__ the stress hormone
Pain relief: Studies have shown that practicing yoga postures, meditation or a combination of the two, reduced pain for people with conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune diseases and hypertension as well as arthritis, back and neck pain and other chronic conditions
Better breathing: Yoga includes breathing practices which can be effective for reducing our stress response, improving lung function and encouraging relaxation
Flexibility: Yoga improves flexibility and range of motion.
Other good reasons include: better circulation, improved concentration and coordination, improved memory, and inner peace. The meditative effects of a regular yoga practice helps to cultivate a feeling of calm and peacefulness.
Yoga poses can be modified to fit the abilities of just about anyone. I use modified poses all the time with my clients. One of my favorite poses is the cat-cow (photo,left). It's very safe and is good for the back. You stand on all fours, arch your back like a cat and let your head hang down. Hold the position for at least 7 breaths. Release the position and let your back down like a sway-backed cow, keeping your head facing up.
Again, hold for at least 7 breaths. This pose alternately stretches and strengthens the back and neck.
Yoga classes can be found on almost every corner today. They are offered in yoga studios, most gyms, community centers, parks, some churches and even on the beach!
There are many types of yoga from Hatha to Bikram to Iyengar. I'm still sampling yoga styles and don't yet have a favorite, so I could really use your suggestions here!
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