According to a study that The Yoga Alliance has done, many people who do not practice yoga think that yoga is about wrapping legs around the head; in other words, they think yoga is about making pretzels with their bodies which requires a Gumby-like flexibility.
Other studies have shown that some people think that yoga is a form of religious worship or it isn’t a workout.
While there are many styles of yoga, yoga does not require Gumby-like flexibility, it is not a form of religious worship and it is a workout.
The beauty of yoga is multifold. Yoga meets you were you are; it is about you and about bringing your body, mind and spirit together. Yoga is an ancient centering art. Practicing yoga will produce many subtle benefits as well as the obvious effects of increased flexibility and reduced reaction to stress.
Yoga combines poses with breathing, posture, relaxation and meditation with the intent of creating harmonious body, mind and spirit.
Yoga increases strength and flexibility, improves balance, strengthens immune system, improves circulation, strengthens and tones muscles, improves concentration and focus, and reduces stress and anxiety.
A study done by researchers from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington in Seattle showed that people who practiced yoga learned to eat mindfully and therefore they lost weight.
Among styles of yoga, Hatha yoga is the most commonly practiced one. The core components of Hatha yoga are poses and breathing. Through poses while breathing deeply, mind becomes calm and focused and one finds the spirit lifted.
Yoga is generally considered safe for people of all abilities, even if one uses wheelchair or if one is severely overweight. However, there are conditions such as balance problems, uncontrolled high blood pressure, certain eye conditions such as glaucoma, severe osteoporosis, and artificial joints that may limit one from practicing yoga. The best is to contact your health care provider before starting any exercise to get a clearance.
It is also important to inform your yoga instructor of any conditions so she or he would provide you with modifications to adjust the poses to your specific needs.