September is National Yoga Awareness Month

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Yoga is a science that speaks to overall well-being and to the harmonious companionship of the body, mind and soul.

It has been said the time to relax is when you don’t have time for it. Plan to mark your calendar for the month of September as we celebrate National Yoga Awareness Month. The goal of this month of awareness is to educate the public about the multiple health benefits of yoga, inspiring people to live a healthy lifestyle.

It has been a decade since the Department of Health and Human Services designated the month of September as National Yoga Awareness Month. During its inaugural year, this month of awareness drew thousands of yoga enthusiasts together as they participated in a ten-city yoga health festival tour that featured classes, lectures, entertainment, music and exhibits. Since the first year, this initiative has grown exponentially, reaching all points of the world in an ambitious campaign to help educate, inspire and motivate people to pursue a healthier lifestyle with yoga on the list as one core habit.

Why yoga? Isn’t that a religion or some sort of spiritual nonsense? Actually, there is a science behind this practice that points a finger to the positive impact yoga has on one’s health in myriad ways, including reducing the risk of breast cancer, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, chronic back pain, asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis. It has also been shown to reduce the uncomfortable symptoms associated with menopause. Other benefits of yoga include increased flexibility, muscle strength and tone; improved respiration, energy and vitality; a balanced metabolism; weight reduction; improved cardio and circulatory health; improved athletic performance; and protection from injury. All of this from yoga? Yes, and so much more. It is definitely an endeavor that takes practice and patience, but once you commit to the yoga lifestyle, you will notice first and foremost how much better you feel.

Research has also shown that yoga can help reduce one’s risk of developing hypertension and can also aid in the management of hypertension. Additionally, it can help lower cholesterol levels and resting heart rate, as its meditative elements are an integral part of stabilizing the lining of blood vessels. When practiced during and after treatment for breast cancer, yoga can minimize the physical discomfort and stress, as well as energize and relax women in recovery.

If you suffer from chronic back pain, certain yoga poses can relieve pain and strengthen vulnerable areas of the spine and the back, and for mental therapy, yoga has been shown to raise levels of GABA, a brain neurotransmitter, which helps to improve mood and alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.

There are a variety of yoga practices, too, all of which promote their own style and benefits. One of the biggest obstacles in starting yoga is to determine which one is best for you or that you desire to try. It can be rather confusing the first time. While nearly all styles defer to the same physical postures, each promotes a particular emphasis. Some of the most popular forms of yoga are Hatha, Vinyasa Flow, Anusara, Ashtanga, Bikram/Hot Yoga, Baptiste Power Vinyasa, Core Power Yoga, Iyengar, Power Yoga, Kundalini and Restorative. While it is suggested to begin practicing yoga with a beginner’s class, any style of yoga can be suitable for beginners as long as it is designated as a beginner class.

Yoga is also unique in that it doesn’t require a great deal of money. You can actually create your own yoga space with a good yoga mat, a space to call your own, some water, maybe a nice smelling candle and a good yoga DVD. There are a variety of yoga DVDs on the market, but you can probably find some online or on TV early in the morning. Of course, you can also see if your local gym, fitness center or recreation center offers classes.

Yoga can also be practiced no matter one’s age, as it builds strength and flexibility, as well as decreases stress. When practiced on a regular basis, it provides a balance among the mind, body and spirit. Further, it will create a longer, leaner body as well as promote improved posture. Certain types of yoga, when performed for 90 minutes five days a week, can aid with weight management and weight loss.

If you are ready to celebrate National Yoga Month in September, you can apply for one free week of yoga (as a new student only) during the month of September 2018 at a participating yoga studio near you. Just log on to yogahealthfoundation.org for more information. Over 1,500 yoga studios are participating nationwide. Invite friends and family to join you in the fun. You can also search the web site for yoga events in your community that are ongoing during the month of September.

You may think yoga might not be for you or that you won’t even get a good workout or that yoga is for hippies or freaks. Well, if you don’t want to feel better or potentially ward off disease, then perhaps it is not for you. However, it is easy to  incorporate this discipline into your life by trying different classes and communicating with different instructors, which will help you find a yoga discipline most suited for you.

Sources: healthcorps.org, verywellfit.com, womenonthefence.com and yogahealthfoundation.org.

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