Can anyone do yoga? Yes, anyone can do and benefit from yoga. But many are put off by the association with meditation and spiritualism. These elements are indeed part of yoga, but you don’t necessarily have to buy into the more esoteric and spiritual aspects of yoga. Although once you start, you may gain a better appreciation of the holistic nature of yoga.
The physical aspects of yoga
A vital component of yoga is the physical aspects of stretching and balance. Without these aspects, you’re not really doing yoga. On a purely physical level, yoga can have incredible benefits for the body. It makes you much more limber and improves balance and poise. It’s also a great way to strengthen muscles and improve core strength.
As with any form of physical endeavor, you’re unlikely to be great at it at the beginning, you may struggle with even the most basic of postures. Even people who are physically capable are often surprised at how challenging yoga is when they first start. As with most things, continual practice makes you better.
Newcomers who first walk into a yoga studio looking for physical improvement will notice immediately how important breathing is to accomplish the physical aspects of yoga. There is always an effort to regulate breathing and moves are often carried out in an inhale and exhale cycle. This breathing cycle makes challenging positions and stretches easier to accomplish.
The mental aspects of yoga
However, controlling your breathing does something else apart from making moves more manageable. Focusing on your breathing helps clear the mind. A frequently used practice in meditation is to focus on breathing as a means of eliminating all distractions from the individual. It allows the meditator to just be without being plagued by worries, to-do lists, or any other concerns that make up our usual day. It can get you in a state of deep calm.
This calm does not need to be attributed to the mystical, in fact, the language of science explains this phenomenon quite clearly. Controlled breathing and meditation take us from a fight or flight mode where we are constantly looking for threats and evaluating solutions to a state of digestion and relaxation. Stress levels are lowered, anxiety disappears and greater mindfulness can take hold. If you thought that you needed mystical access to do yoga, you’ll find that yoga gives you access to be more at peace and be more mindful.
As awareness of the benefits of yoga increase through more people, the myths surrounding it are being debunked. Athletes such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Lebron James, and Shaquille O’Neil are all practitioners; they are all yogi. Primarily they took yoga up to gain the physical benefits of keeping more limber and loose, however, it’s hard to imagine that yoga doesn’t also help these athletes to find calm after the intense competition they subject their minds to.
We can all benefit from the physical and mental benefits of yoga, we all suffer to some extent from the stress of modern life and yoga provides a way of not only enhancing your physical well-being but your emotional and mental state too.