7 REASONS TO PRACTICE YOGA
As we age it becomes more and more important to keep up muscle strength. Doing weight-bearing exercises like Warrior I and Warrior II, Downward Dog and Cobra add weight and stress into areas like the spine, hips, arms and wrists, thus helping to prevent bone loss.
When we are more flexible we move more freely in the world. It is important to the health of the joints that muscles can both contract and relax. When a muscle contracts, another relaxes, these are labeled the antagonist and agonist muscles. When we cannot relax a muscle, that muscle is not able to coordinate properly with its antagonist, which can throw the joint into damage. Yoga teaches us to moderate the amount of tension in muscular activity.
Yoga helps build our proprioception, which is our ability to know where we are in space. Through yoga we are guided to find the proper alignment in positions. Over time and with awareness we begin to live in our body and in our life in a more balanced and harmonious way.
Yoga teaches us to let go of the product or finished goal and instead to love the process. Once we learn this concept, it can be applied to pretty much anything. Learning to play the guitar, studying for an exam or learning a language. Ultimately, we begin to see life as a process.
Yoga supports the health of our immune system, reproductive system, nervous system and cardiovascular system. Our body parts and systems work in beautiful symmetry with one another. Like our greater ecosystem, one part affects the whole. For example, breathing fully and deeply moves the diaphragm muscle which helps the heart in pumping, muscular movement moves lymph which clears debris and toxins our of the body and relaxing our body/mind allows for our nervous system to switch to the parasympathetic mode which allows us to digest and heal.
We can tend to ignore the body’s urges for sleep or rest, for healthy food and movement. With consistent practice, yoga will bring about sensitivity to the body’s messages. The differences between stretching or strengthening free from struggle and strain will become apparent.
When it comes down to it, this is foundational to the ancient yogis purpose for yoga. Yoga is the means to Realization, which the ancient yogis believed would take you beyond duality and to a place of ultimate joy and peace. Whether yoga is a spiritual practice for you or not, it is true that when we allow ourselves to slow down, we can begin to live in a way that is deliberate instead of reactionary. This builds inner peace and strength.