Mama – Stay Healthy

Liv Calacanis, Health Page Editor

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Take a moment and picture your best self. What do you look like?  What do you feel like? Relaxed? Free from the stresses and problems of the world? Energized to do the things you wish you had time for? At peace with yourself? When you begin to practice yoga, this can become your reality.

Yoga is an Eastern practice that began primarily in India and then made its way to the western world. In Sanskrit, the ancient language of India, yoga means union. Uniting the body, mind, and spirit. Its purpose is to prepare the mind for meditation and some would even call it, “meditation in movement.”

When most people think of yoga, they think of the physical postures like downward dog  or people in crazy backbends with their foot behind their ear. However, what most people don’t know, is that there are many different aspects of yoga besides the physical poses.

There are eight specific branches of yoga and they are called The Eight Limbs of Yoga. These are the steps that basically act as the guidelines to living a meaningful compassionate life with purpose. The Eight Limbs are Yamas (attitude toward your environment), Niyamas (attitude toward yourself), Asana (physical postures) Pranayama (breathwork), Pratyahara (sense restraint), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation), and finally Samadhi (enlightenment).

There are so many amazing benefits to practicing yoga. Physically, you become more flexible, you tone and increase muscle strength, it can protect you from injuries and conditions like arthritis, it reduces risk of heart disease, breathwork (pranayama) can improve symptoms of Asthma and there are probably hundreds of more physical health benefits you get from doing yoga.

Senior, Madeline DiPalmer explains the experience she has had with yoga. “I was hesitant to start practicing yoga after recovering from my ACL surgery, but to my surprise, it actually has been a form of physical therapy for my knee. It helps me in so many different ways and I am so grateful for it.”

Besides the obvious physical benefits, it has a positive impact on your mental and emotional health, as well. The meditative benefits of yoga brings you mental clarity. It makes you arrive in the here and now. It brings you deeply into the present moment, helping to make all the pain of the past and stress of the future, disappear. Other benefits include sharpening your focus, improving symptoms of depression and anxiety, and boosting your memory.

The most important part is taking what you learn and feel on your mat into your daily life. Can you find contentment while waiting on the long line in the grocery store? Can you be accepting of your imperfections? When you get angry or frustrated, can you take a few breaths before you act on it?

Clearly, yoga is incredibly beneficial for anyone and everyone and contrary to popular belief, there are no prerequisites to starting yoga. You don’t need to be flexible or thin and you don’t need to own a $100 pair of yoga pants. You don’t even need a mat. You can begin where you are, right now.

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