I never seriously considered the practice of yoga as beneficial for my health, thinking it was more of a woo-woo weird spiritual thing, until I actually tried it…
by, Becky j Miller
Yoga is one of those subjects that most people have an extreme opinion on; they either love the idea of the practice, or are dreadfully afraid of getting stuck in some twisted pretzel pose.
Of course, me always being anti-norm, I found myself somewhere in between. I never seriously considered the practice of yoga as beneficial for my health, thinking it was more of a woo-woo weird spiritual thing, until I actually tried it, and then I was hooked!
Several years ago, my then employer, thanks to the new company nurse, began offering free bi-weekly yoga classes during lunch hour. Initially I had no interest or desire to participate, but one of my friends asked, “Hey are you going to try the yoga class?” Feeling a bit influenced by peer pressure, I agreed to participate, and what a pleasant surprise!!
By the time the first yoga class was offered, I’d been running for several years and had convinced myself that being chronically sore and stiff were just part of the package. Thankfully, I was wrong!! It took only a few yoga classes for me to realize my aching muscles no longer protested quite so vehemently.
On extremely stressful workdays, I was often tempted to skip class, but never did because I learned quickly; one brief hour not only relieved my aching body; it helped restore my mental clarity. Savasana, also known as corpse pose, or in laymen’s terms, a yoga nap, which is generally performed at the end of a session, helps relieve mild depression, mild blood pressure, headaches, fatigue, and insomnia.
According to Yoga Journal, Savasana can also calm the nervous system as fatigued muscles relax, tense shoulders and jaws soften, and eyes quiet to reflect a quieter state of mind. I know to some these claims sound like mumbo jumbo hogwash, and that’s okay, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but trust me, as one who relishes Savasana, it’s two to three minutes of absolute peace.
These days, in a new town, new job, there’s no more employer sponsored yoga with my work peeps, and I really miss it!! I miss my friends. I miss the camaraderie. My mind misses the forced relaxation. My runner’s body misses pushing the limits of what it can do off the track, and both miss the overall health well-being yoga brings.
Admittedly, yoga does have spiritual aspects that sometimes make me uncomfortable. Some yogis are hyper-spiritual, encouraging oneness with the body, breath, etcetera. I just tune them out and focus on stretching. And never, do I fold my hands at the end and repeat the phrase, “Namaste,” meaning, “I bow to the divine in you” because well, I don’t want to.
Want to know a great thing about yoga? There are some very basic poses that are easy to replicate without guidance. When my back hurts, I pull out my mat, and spend some time in child’s pose. Downward facing dog is fabulous for stretching tight calf muscles. Happy baby pose is one of those, awkward to do in a room full of your peers, yet oddly relaxing movements that I rather enjoy. However, since grasping one’s big toes is required, hand washing afterwards is strongly advised.
Yoga requires no special equipment or clothes. While there is a special “yoga clothes” category, any loose t-shirt and leggings will do the job. A mat is beneficial and may be purchased at Wal-Mart or Target for approximately $20, a small investment with a large return.
So, if you ever you find yourself looking for a way to improve your health, why not give yoga a try? What have you got to lose?
Until Next Time,
Becky J Miller