Yoga can literally trace its origins can back nearly 5000 years. It’s an ancient Indian form of spirituality and philosophy that includes stretches, breathing, and meditational practices to achieve mind-body union. Once the domain of loincloth-wearing gurus and hippies, Yoga has now reached the mainstream and you can probably find a studio offering classes on practically every main street in America.
Just about everyone, from traveling businesswomen to professional athletes, are incorporating the beneficial aspects of yoga into their daily routines. And exploring the more esoteric spiritual aspects is no longer necessary- most people just find yoga a great way to stay flexible, release stress, and condition their muscles and joints.
Another great benefit to yoga is that it can pretty much be performed anywhere there’s a flat piece of ground. You don’t need to sign up with an expensive gym with complex equipment and pounding techno music. A grassy park or a hotel room plus a mat are all you need to practice it. With some very basic knowledge of the rudiments, you can easily start your very own yoga class in your living room at a schedule that works around you.
While some yoga positions look extremely challenging and can only be performed by experienced practitioners, most of the basic stretches can be done by just about anyone in any physical condition. You don’t need to tie yourself up in a contortionist’s knot just yet. Anyone from out of shape beginners, to kids, to senior citizens can get started. Yoga is a welcoming and egalitarian activity.
Yoga stretching won’t just get your joints limber, it’s a great form of exercise as well. Since the stretches are performed as stress poses that are made to be held for extended periods of time, even some of the most basic movements will challenge and strengthen your balance, breathing, and musculature. Yoga is also designed to work just about every area of the body. The arms, core, back, and legs will all get a workout as you try to maintain your stability in one of its many poses.
Medical studies have documented the health benefits of yoga. These are just a sampling (among many others) of what researchers have found:
As we can see from some of the above side effects of regular practice, Yoga can benefit not just the body, but the mind and our general quality of life as well. When we’re positive, less stressed, and sleeping better with pain-free bodies, our mood brightens in our day to day life.
Check out some of our Yoga-based stretches below. Focus on holding the stretch and breathing in your inner core. If they feel difficult at first, that’s OK, just try to do the best you can and don’t push through any pain barriers. Yoga is meant to be low-impact.
By performing these movements for 10-15 minutes per day over a month-long period, you should start to notice a big improvement in your energy, flexibility, and strength.
Joel is the founder of IMPOSSIBLE and the founder of MoveWell. Joel founded MoveWell after sustaining an injury while running an ultra marathon on every continent. Joel is writes about mobility, pain management and health and wellness overall.