Why should I do YOGA?

Stretching, December 03, 2017

I believe Yoga is one of the best ways to work on full body flexibility, stability, and basic mind-body connection. This is one enhancing habit that should be a part of every athletes regime.

Earlier this year (2017) I added Yoga as a weekly habit (I have scheduled in a 1hr class once a week, and I do some 3-5min flow routines another 2-3 x a week). This is yet another enhancing habit that makes me better. Even my wife is enjoying the benefits with more flexibility and less back pain. Yoga is a practice made up of 8 limbs or strands. When they are intertwined the result is yoga

 

The strands are equal and the whole result is greater than the parts. This resonates with me as I believe in Aristotle's quote "The sum of the whole is greater than the individual parts" when it comes to daily habits to move you towards true potential. 

 
1) How you conduct yourself morally and socially in life. 
2) Self discipline and spiritual observance. 
3) Good Postures (asanas) 
4) Breathing control  (pranayama) 
5) Looking inwards (pratyahara)
6) Focus  (dharana) 
7) Meditation
8) "Enlightenment" (finding your true sense of purpose)

 

A good athlete requires a strong upright posture, controlled breathing, and excellent focus. It's all about showing up with authenticity in the world and bringing your full attention to a task, a feeling for another person without regard for what it will bring you. You don't have to place Yoga within a religious framework if it makes you uncomfortable. In my opinion it's a great way of working on self improvement with great full body stretches that have been honed over 5000 years. The science of yoga has it's origins long before the first religions or belief systems were born. 

Yoga is about linking the mind body and breath. It requires focus, so your inner dialogue is forced to shut up. It's about discipline and a continuing practice. The journey getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. Not about the destination but the graft for the craft.  When you combine the bodies movement with breathing it's transformative. It changes your outlook on life, your mindset. That's where you create space for the magic to happen. From an athletic point of view it enhances flow and efficient movement. It will make you FASTER.
Health benefits range from combating Alzheimer's disease (university of California), reduction of low back pain (university of Maryland), reducing exam stress (times of India). A Yogi journal survey revealed that yogis were 20% more likely to give back to their community compared to non yogis. 

 

Be consistent with your practice. This applies to Yoga or ANYTHING for that matter. If in doubt breath out, and let negative thoughts go.  Delay gratification, don't fall into the trap of societies "instant gratification" culture - learn to be comfortable in your own skin, and not continually comparing to what advertising is showing us. Get comfortable with uncomfortable . This allows us to be of service better and allows us to tap into our creativity. Before embarking on a yoga class ring around, get some recommendations from friends, have a chat to the teacher to see if the class will match up with your goals. the biggest regret you will have is if you don't at least give it a go. 

 

Types of Yoga

 

1) Vinyasa Flow - faster paced flowing sequence of postures that gives you a great workout. Great to sync your movement with breathing focusing your mind and giving a great aerobic workout. This is my favorite type

2) Iyengar - slow and precise designed to loosen up stiffness. Like giving your body a massage from the inside out. You can hold postures up to 2min a time and often works with belts and blocks. Regular sessions of Iyengar have been shown to help with anxiety and depression. I find this very prescriptive and not as joyous as the flow. 

 

3) Kundalini - this type involves chanting and repetitive phrases linked in with mudras or hand positions. Less energetic and positions are held longer. It's said to create energy. It also helps with breaking the cycle of food or drink to manage emotions. This is my least favourite. I get a little uncomfortable with the chanting. 

4) Hatha - generic term to any type of yoga that involves a sequence of basic postures and is associated with gentler classes with a good intro to breathing techniques. Good for beginners.