Fitness is a lifestyle. That’s my motto. It is something I will always do because I want to grow old and live well. Have you seen those videos of the 80-year-old grandma working out? That will be me one day, God willing. Exercise is something I will make time for.
The thing with fitness is that you need to do several different types of workouts to prevent injury from overuse, burnout from boredom and to keep your body constantly changing. Each week I complete several high calorie burn workouts like bootcamp, strength training, a long endurance run, and yoga. The older you get, the more important it is to begin and continue a yoga practice.
I asked Marliisa Yarberry, a certified yoga instructor at McClure Fitness several questions to help us all gain a better understanding of why each of us should be practicing yoga.
Why do yoga?
There is a wide range of benefits from practicing yoga. In general, yoga increases overall muscular strength and promotes flexibility as well as balance. We place great emphasis on poses that increase strength, such as plank (for arms) and boat (for abs). Aside from the main physical benefits, the repetitive breathing in yoga helps decrease the heart rate and blood pressure, allowing the practitioner to feel calm and relaxed. It is for this reason that yoga is helpful for reducing stress and anxiety.
Why work with a certified instructor as opposed to beginning on your own?
Yoga can be intimidating at first; there is a whole new set of vocabulary to learn and you are asking your body to go into postures it has never experienced before. A yoga instructor leads you into each pose, telling you and showing you where to put your hands, your feet, etc. Also, you can’t usually see yourself doing yoga. Most of my beginners are constantly wondering, “Am I doing this right?” The instructor is able to adjust your positioning to get you in the right place. They can also readily offer modifications when needed so you don’t feel you are reaching beyond your ability and/or risking injury. For the intermediate or advanced student, a yoga instructor can show you how to take each pose to the next level.
Why should a beginner start out slow with yoga?
Like any other exercise program, it is important to know your own abilities and not push yourself too hard too early. If a particular pose does feel uncomfortable, talk with your instructor. You might be unknowingly doing a pose wrong, or it may just be that your muscles are weak and the discomfort will fade as you get stronger. Always let your instructor know if you have any medical issues that might make some poses uncomfortable or unadvisable. They can help guide you with modifications that will make the class safe for you as well as more beneficial and enjoyable. And of course, for those with any pre-existing medical conditions, it is best to get clearance from your doctor before beginning an exercise regimen.
How does a beginner (or anyone) dress for a yoga session?
There really are no rules! You want to wear what makes you comfortable. Typically, you want to avoid anything long or overly baggy that will get in the way of your movement. If you are practicing hot yoga, wicking fabric is advisable. For all forms of yoga, you may want to bring water and a towel.
Yoga is so broad and has so much to offer. Anyone can benefit from yoga: mind, body, and spirit!