Sunday, June 14, 2015

Yoga for Health & Well-Being

David Sunshine, my friend and the owner of the Dallas Yoga Center (www.dallasyogacenter.com), wrote the following article about the importance of yoga. I highly recommend finding a class in your area and giving this type of exercise a try. Yoga is wonderful for young and old alike.

The classroom is packed with people of all shapes and sizes. A teacher walks through the rows of brightly colored sticky mats as students move through a variety of yoga postures. The teacher calls out the next pose, “downward facing dog,” and suddenly from all fours, hips lift into the air and bodies shift into the position that is similar to the way that dogs stretch into after waking from a long nap. Forearms quiver as the instruction is given to extend their hands into the floor and ground their heels, and skin glistens with sweat.

Until recently, the term yoga brought to mind images of a bearded man sitting on a mountaintop in a posture resembling the shape of a pretzel. However, over the past ten years the popularity of yoga has grown so much that presently more than eighteen million Americans consider themselves yogis. People of all ages, backgrounds and body types are singing praise for what has now become a common household activity.

Yoga originated in India over 4,000 years ago. The term yoga means “union.” The essence of yoga is the unification of mind, body and spirit. Our modern day lives are fast paced and filled with often overwhelming stress. We are overtaxed mentally and physically as we try to make it through our endless lists of things to do. Though its roots are ancient, yoga brings harmony even to our modern fragmented turbo drive inner state of being. And yet, yoga is not just a path to inner health, but glowing healthy skin as well.
The yoga sage, Patanjali, wrote that each person has a light within and yoga brightens that inner lamp. However he also noted that some people, like some lamps, have dustier covers than others. Patanjali explains that yoga is a life long journey that removes the dust enabling the lamp to shine brighter.

Through the practice of breathing techniques, physical postures, positive thought and behavior, and proper diet, yoga reduces stress, detoxes and strengthens the physical body, calms and clears the mind as well as uplifts the spirit. Even after a single yoga class one will notice a deep sense of wholeness, harmony and well-being. Eventually with continued practice, a soft innocence returns to the face and the inner light grows bright emanating outward in a sweet warm glow and youthful appearance.

In addition to inner radiance, yoga promotes an intimate mind/body connection. Yoga expands our consciousness with an acute awareness of each inhalation, exhalation, movement and stretch. As tension in the mind and body disappear, a deeper inner awareness arises, and we begin to appreciate life anew for the marvelous interconnections that make it up. Cultivating our inner awareness creates a feeling of balance, freedom and joy bringing a special sweetness to life known as “rasa.”

Within yoga, “rasa” refers to our “inner juice,” which is associated with health, joy and flexibility. We are born from a place of water, and youth is characterized by both fluidity and resilience. As we age, we often loose that quality of rasa, and life becomes dry, rigid and routine.

The different phases of our lives are reflected in changes to our skin. As we grow old, wrinkles appear, and the skin thins and becomes less elastic. Yoga is designed to reverse the aging process and replenish our rasa. Specific yoga postures bring fresh blood and oxygen to the skin, remove toxins and restore elasticity. Yoga provides the tools necessary to diminish the effects of aging so that a healthy inner and outer complexion is achieved naturally.

In the past 10 or more years, yoga has grown in the United States with ever-increasing numbers of students and studios. There is every type of yoga class imaginable; from strenuous exercises done in a heated room to restorative yoga classes, which are relaxing and healing to the soul (my personal favorite). You can work up a sweat or relax your body into different yoga positions, depending on the class you take. Personally, I like the more traditional yoga classes vs. high energy types. I find the more traditional type classes help me make the body, mind, spirit connection easier than classes where I am sweating my socks off. The bottom line is do what works for you and your body, but do try yoga—for your health! I know you will benefit from this most ancient form of exercise.

If you’re in the Dallas area, please visit David’s wonderful yoga studio, Dallas Yoga Center. You will be so happy you did!

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