Since its introduction in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Western practice of yoga has experienced a steady increase in popularity. Before diving into the different categories, poses and yoga pants, a new student should be aware of the range of benefits they can reap from taking a yoga class.
It isn’t just the young and athletically inclined that can find reward in a yoga practice. Every type of student can benefit from a yoga class, from athletes taking classes for injury prevention to students in search of a healthier lifestyle to long-time practitioners learning the art of teaching yoga.
First and foremost yoga is famous for stress relief, which carries with it cascading mental health benefits. Stress has been a leading factor in causing everything from asthma to insomnia; so relieving stress of every day life provides a host of healthy side effects.
Studies show that yoga classes can alleviate the symptoms of severe mental disorders such as depression and chronic anxiety. Quieting the mind through mindful movement and as well as breath control all add up to both mental clarity and a sense of calm. Additionally, just making room for personal development or “me time” and foster an overall feeling of wellness and contribute to healthier choices outside of the studio.
While not every style of yoga will help develop the promised toned “yoga butt,” studies show time and again that yoga changes your body for the better.
Some classes are more dynamic and offer the benefits of cardio and muscle building. Yoga classes with a faster pace, such as Ashtanga or flow, provide a cardiovascular (although not aerobic) workout. These classes focus more on a sustained heightened heart rate, moving from pose to pose to quickly build a sweat and working muscle tone.
This does not mean that gentler yoga classes don’t have comparable health benefits. For older students, slower yoga classes can ease aches and pains of aging. Studies show that a regular yoga practice helps with maintaining bone health, alleviates stiffness from arthritis, stabilize fluctuating hormones and improve both balance and mobility.
Furthermore, a yoga practice encourages awareness outside of the studio. Through taking the first steps toward self-care through yoga and the mindfulness fostered in classes, yoga encourages a healthier lifestyle. Students may find themselves eating better and becoming more committed to a healthy awareness of their body.
Joining the Yoga Community
Even though that first class may be daunting, many studios offer supportive and nurturing environments. Everyone begins at the same place and can relate to the confusion and apprehension of being a new student. Many students turn to teacher training after finding a deeper connection within the community in order to pay it forward.
There are as many ways to practice yoga as there are yoga students, but across the board everyone can benefit from yoga classes. From beginners to yoga pros, there is always something to be learned on the mat.