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What yoga can do for you

Yoga offers an incredible range of spiritual, mental and physical benefits. As September is National Yoga Awareness Month, LadyLUX has compiled some of the reasons to try out or revisit the pratice.

According to Carly Farmer, owner of Villa Pilates in Newport Beach, Calif., yoga is based on creating balance in the body by developing strength and flexibility. Students engage in a range of postures, each of which is connected to specific physical benefits. As people work through the postures, their stamina and alignment builds and their mind is calmed. Students learn to be more aware of their bodies and how they move.

Many are drawn to yoga for the health aspect. However, yoga can nourish not just the body, but the soul.

“I always say that yoga is the best thing you can do for yourself,” Farmer said. “Not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. Your body just seems to ‘work’ when you have a consistent yoga practice, and you will leave feeling both invigorated and relaxed.”

Beyond relaxation, specific health benefits include stress reduction, detoxification, better digestion, lower blood pressure, pain prevention and more. Practitioners note that it visibly tones the body while improving overall energy, balance and vitality. Mentally, it allows you to quiet your mind and focus your energy. Moves from backbends and hip-openers to inversions and twists do everything from massage the kidneys to open the heart chakra and stop depression.

“There is not one thing in a yoga class that does not do something good for your body,” Farmer said. “I have never left a class not feeling good.”

By learning to find stillness during yoga, practitioners can return to that experience when having a stressful moment.

Sora No of the nonprofit Yoga for Health credits yoga with getting her through a kidnapping in a Third World country. It allowed her to breathe and think things through during this extremely upsetting experience.

Yoga originated in India thousands of years ago as a path to spiritual growth and has since proliferated through various yoga schools and instructors. The ancient philosophy has been adapted and modified, leading to the incredible array of practices today.

Depending on the type of yoga, you may move through a set of movements or just concentrate on breath. Sessions can focus on strength, meditation, spiritual awareness, movement, keeping poses, vigor, alignment and more.

Common types of yoga include Vinyasa flow, an energetic option which links breath and movement, providing a good workout; Power Yoga, which builds stamina and generates heat in the body; and Music Flow, which pairs music and rhythm with yoga poses.

With so many variations, it is important to find the right kind of yoga for you. It is up to each person to figure out what type and how often to attend classes, but No recommends “shopping around” to try different studios and teachers.

“Do not get frustrated if you don’t like your first class, because that can be a completely different experience from your next one,” Farmer said. “I truly believe that in order to get real benefits from yoga, everything about it needs to feel right – the space you practice in, the energy of the people around you, the energy of the person leading you, the music or no music that is being played.”

Farmer says that while the most popular reason to practice yoga is to enhance relaxation, people have different concepts of what that means.

“Essentially the bottom line with yoga is about union and being connected,” No said. “We are always on the run and we are constantly on the go, with work and family and personal lives, so yoga kind of lets us slow down time a little bit.”

Yoga has traditionally been practiced more by men than women, often passed down from father to son. These days, however, it has become more of a woman’s practice, and has shifted to reflect a woman’s body and the way a woman thinks.

“(There’s a) new movement of embracing the goddess of a woman and the strength, the individuality, the love and nurturing that a woman feels and cultivating that,” No said.

Yoga today can come with kicks: heated rooms, loud music and extra flairs as in Yogalates. The latest trend has seen children and teens gravitate toward the practice.

“I love that yoga has become so mainstream, but sometimes it makes me sad that in some places it has become so trendy that some people aren’t getting the real yogic experience,” Farmer said. “Right now, yoga is ‘cool,’ and it hasn’t always been like that.”

The difficult part may be squeezing it in; committing to yoga takes dedication.

“That’s the hardest part,” No maintained. “To say even in my busy schedule, at 6 o’clock today I am going yoga class. Because ultimately, at the end of class, you’re usually loving it and can’t wait for the next time. But then life gets in the way and you think of excuses as to why you don’t go again.”

For those concerned about the cost of regular sessions, many studios offer donation-based classes in which students contribute what they can.

In the end, No believes the way yoga changes practitioners' consciousness is life-altering.

“(Students) slowly realize that their perspective in life changes,” No said. “It starts healing yourself and changing the way you think about things and the way you perceive life. And that in return allows you to have a peace of mind and it allows you to open yourself up to the possibility of greatness and goodness.”

Yoga Awareness Month kicked off with a string of grassroots events across the nation in which volunteers encouraged community members to try yoga for a week. Now in its fourth year, more than 1,500 studios are participating with various events. Yoga offers an incredible range of spiritual, mental and physical benefits. As September is National Yoga Awareness Month, LadyLUX has compiled some of the reasons you may want to try out the practice or revisit it.

According to Carly Farmer, owner of Villa Pilates in Newport Beach, Calif., yoga is based on creating balance in the body by developing strength and flexibility. Students engage in a range of postures, each of which is connected to specific physical benefits. As people work through the postures, their stamina and alignment builds and their mind is calmed. Students learn to be more aware of their bodies and how they move.

Many are drawn to yoga for the health aspect. However, yoga can nourish not just the body, but the soul.

“I always say that yoga is the best thing you can do for yourself,” Farmer said. “Not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. Your body just seems to ‘work’ when you have a consistent yoga practice, and you will leave feeling both invigorated and relaxed.”

Beyond relaxation, specific health benefits include stress reduction, detoxification, better digestion, lower blood pressure, pain prevention and more. Practitioners note that it visibly tones the body while improving overall energy, balance and vitality. Mentally, it allows you to quiet your mind and focus your energy. Moves from backbends and hip-openers to inversions and twists do everything from massage the kidneys to open the heart chakra and stop depression.

“There is not one thing in a yoga class that does not do something good for your body,” Farmer said. “I have never left a class not feeling good.”

By learning to find stillness during yoga, practitioners can return to that experience when having a stressful moment.

Sora No of the nonprofit Yoga for Health credits yoga with getting her through a kidnapping in a Third World country. It allowed her to breathe and think things through during this extremely upsetting experience.

Yoga originated in India thousands of years ago as a path to spiritual growth and has since proliferated through various yoga schools and instructors. The ancient philosophy has been adapted and modified, leading to the incredible array of practices today.

Depending on the type of yoga, you may move through a set of movements or just concentrate on breath. Sessions can focus on strength, meditation, spiritual awareness, movement, keeping poses, vigor, alignment and more.

Common types of yoga include Vinyasa flow, an energetic option which links breath and movement, providing a good workout; Power Yoga, which builds stamina and generates heat in the body; and Music Flow, which pairs music and rhythm with yoga poses.

With so many variations, it is important to find the right kind of yoga for you. It is up to each person to figure out what type and how often to attend classes, but No recommends “shopping around” to try different studios and teachers.

“Do not get frustrated if you don’t like your first class, because that can be a completely different experience from your next one,” Farmer said. “I truly believe that in order to get real benefits from yoga, everything about it needs to feel right – the space you practice in, the energy of the people around you, the energy of the person leading you, the music or no music that is being played.”

Farmer says that while the most popular reason to practice yoga is to enhance relaxation, people have different concepts of what that means.

“Essentially the bottom line with yoga is about union and being connected,” No said. “We are always on the run and we are constantly on the go, with work and family and personal lives, so yoga kind of lets us slow down time a little bit.”

Yoga has traditionally been practiced more by men than women, often passed down from father to son. These days, however, it has become more of a woman’s practice, and has shifted to reflect a woman’s body and the way a woman thinks.

“(There’s a) new movement of embracing the goddess of a woman and the strength, the individuality, the love and nurturing that a woman feels and cultivating that,” No said.

Yoga today can come with kicks: heated rooms, loud music and extra flairs as in Yogalates. The latest trend has seen children and teens gravitate toward the practice.

“I love that yoga has become so mainstream, but sometimes it makes me sad that in some places it has become so trendy that some people aren’t getting the real yogic experience,” Farmer said. “Right now, yoga is ‘cool,’ and it hasn’t always been like that.”

The difficult part may be squeezing it in; committing to yoga takes dedication.

“That’s the hardest part,” No maintained. “To say even in my busy schedule, at 6 o’clock today I am going yoga class. Because ultimately, at the end of class, you’re usually loving it and can’t wait for the next time. But then life gets in the way and you think of excuses as to why you don’t go again.”

For those concerned about the cost of regular sessions, many studios offer donation-based classes in which students contribute what they can.

In the end, No believes the way yoga changes practitioners' consciousness is life-altering.

“(Students) slowly realize that their perspective in life changes,” No said. “It starts healing yourself and changing the way you think about things and the way you perceive life. And that in return allows you to have a peace of mind and it allows you to open yourself up to the possibility of greatness and goodness.”

Yoga Awareness Month kicked off with a string of grassroots events across the nation in which volunteers encouraged community members to try yoga for a week. Now in its fourth year, more than 1,500 studios are participating with various events. Visit www.yogamonth.org to learn more.

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What yoga can do for you What yoga can do for you

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