Yoga has been around for 5-10 thousand years, give or take a few thousand, and now — maybe more than ever — it is a much needed practice. In fact, because of the way modern living affects us both physically and mentally, it’s likely that most people today need (or will benefit from) yoga. I truly believe that yoga can be the perfect antidote to modern life. Here are the reasons why.
Posture. Most of us spend a large part of the day with our heads forward and down, our shoulders hunched, and our backs rounded. You don’t have to be working at a desk to be guilty of this. Cooking, reading, writing, tending small children, doing housework, knitting, sewing, woodworking, gardening, making pottery or jewelry, texting or browsing on a handheld device — all of these require us to curve forward. In yoga class, in every pose, you are encouraged to bring your head in alignment with your spine, open your chest, and pull your shoulder blades together. These movements counteract the habitual posture of modern life.
Respiration. Most of us do not breathe efficiently. Our breathing is often shallow and rapid; it does not completely fill our lungs, does not bring in enough fresh air. A large part of yoga is pranayama, which are exercises and techniques that bring attention and awareness to your breathing. Yoga encourages you to slow your respiration, to take deep rhythmic breaths, expanding your diaphragm on the inhale and completely emptying your lungs on the exhale. This can lower your heart rate, calm your mind, strengthen your lungs, and bring more enriching oxygen into your blood stream.
Concentration. The many mental demands of modern life are another reason most people need yoga. We often have to multitask, do more than one thing simultaneously, splitting our attention. If your mind feels scattered that is because it is. Constantly swapping your focus from one task to another makes it hard to quiet mental chatter and concentrate, adding stress to our often already stressful lives. In yoga, you reverse the ordinary outward flow of energy and consciousness and bring it inward to still the mind and improve your perception.
Yoga emphasizes an internal focus, a way of just being rather than perpetually doing. It brings us one step closer to a meditative state.
Try yoga. Oh, we do love our hectic lives. But, while today’s dynamic environment has many rewards, it can also extract a toll on our bodies and minds. To counteract the stresses of modern life, to bring balance into your world (figuratively and literally), try yoga. Start with something basic, maybe just breathing and gentle stretching, maybe while seated in a chair. Find a video online, get a DVD, go to a class. If it doesn’t work, find another video, class, or teacher…and try it again!
(Images re-purposed from Funny Yoga Quotes on Pinterest)