21 Aug 2014
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The Mind Body Workout

A little bit about National Yoga Month and how to get involved for free.

The Mind Body Workout

We live in a high-stress, fast-paced area. Everything seems like a competition: our jobs, size of our house, make of our car, success of our kids and even our fitness level. I mean isn’t exercise supposed to relieve stress?

When it comes to the practice of yoga, you’re encouraged to leave all those loud and overpowering thoughts at the door. And for those who don’t believe yoga is a workout, give a 90-minute power class a try. The point is that yoga is an all-around workout. Yoga can improve strength and increase flexibility, but also provide numerous mental and physical health benefits.

If you needed another reason to give it a chance, National Yoga Month is right around the corner.

The observance, designated by the Department of Health and Human Services, lasts all of September. It’s dedicated to educating people about the proven health benefits of yoga. It also provides people with tools to take action and start practicing, like offering free classes. The entire awareness campaign is produced and administered by the nonprofit organization Yoga Health Foundation.

If you’re still not sure yoga is for you, consider all the wonderful things it can do for your body. Yoga reduces the physical effects of stress on the body by lowering the levels of the stress hormone Cortisol. One of the reasons yoga is so relaxing is because it teaches people to take slower, deeper breaths. Your body responds by releasing a relaxation response, leaving you calmer and increasing the amount of oxygen available to the body.

Some studies have shown practicing yoga can relieve pain. Because yoga helps to improve flexibility and mobility, over time your range of motion increases, which can help rid you of your daily aches and pains. Yoga also helps to improve body alignment, so you sit and stand with better posture, in turn helping to relieve back, neck, joint and muscle problems.

Certain yoga poses increase strength. When you are required to support your body weight for a long period of time, your muscles respond by getting stronger. Over time you’ll find the poses easier. That is your body adapting to the strength required to hold the pose. But, don’t worry about your workout getting boring. There are always variations to try and new ways to push yourself doing yoga.

Besides all the physical benefits, yoga helps people focus on the present. It helps create mind body health, improve concentration, coordination, reaction time and memory.  Some also find that meditative aspects of yoga help them reach a deeper spiritual place. It allows them to connect with themselves and their surroundings and find a more satisfying place in their lives.

Several studios across the United States are taking part in Yoga Month by offering an entire free week of classes. Click here to see the lists of groups participating. None are in Centreville, but there are some in Fairfax, Manassas, Vienna and other locations close by. 

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