Once you try yoga, chances are that you find out it’s not anything like you expected (but in a good way), it’s exactly what you expected (which is why you tried it in the first place) or it is so much better than you ever expected (and you want to share your new-found love with the entire world). The crux of the matter, then, is not the act of doing yoga but merely the motivation to try it in the first place.
The motivation exists, and abundantly at that. Here, the top 10 reasons — in no particular order — to try and then fall in love with yoga:
- It’s good for your body. Yoga is all about stretching and strengthening the body. This includes muscles, organs, ligaments and joints; even your blood gets in on the action because of yoga’s cardiovascular benefits.
- It’s good for your soul. Nothing necessarily new-agey about this: The repetition of the postures (called asanas) can act as a form of meditation, keeping your mind focused on the physical task at hand and allowing your mind to let go — at least for an hour or so — of outside worries and concerns.
- It feels good. Yoga is meant to push your limits, true. But you should only push to the edge of discomfort and not beyond. The no-pain-no-gain theory doesn’t fly in yoga class. And those mysterious endorphins that avid exercisers talk about are also an end result of a good yoga practice.
- It’s inexpensive — or it can be. Yes, you can pay for private sessions or take classes at the local gym. Both are highly recommended, especially for novices who need the constant direction of an instructor to ensure that each asana is properly performed. Drop-in classes can cost as little as $5. But yoga can be done anywhere (e.g., home, park, beach, desk, car, standing in line at the market) and with very little equipment (a sticky mat is convenient but not necessary). Even clothing can be done on the cheap; a T-shirt and shorts or sweats can do the job as well as a fancy yoga top and coordinating pants.
- It’s proven. Yoga has a long — really long — history. Dating back centuries and experiencing a zealous following over the last 40 or so years, yoga is no fly-by-night exercise regime.
- It’s prevalent. Yoga studios and classes abound. In Wichita, check out Yoga Central, Yoga for You, InnerWorks, Fit Physique, Siva Power Yoga, Genesis or the YMCA.
- It’s age-appropriate. Whatever age you are, it’s appropriate for you. From the very young to the very old and every age in between, yoga offers a safe, effective form of exercise and/or meditation.
- It fits your level of expertise. Yoga is for the beginner. It is for the average exerciser. It is for the master of all things physical. If you can only sit in a chair, you can do yoga. If you can touch your knees but not your toes, you can do yoga. If you can pretzel your legs behind your head while balancing on one hand — with eyes closed — you can do yoga.
- It’s an evolving art form. Many classes still pipe in dreamy, fluted music with some chanting thrown in for good measure. Other classes incorporate hip-hop, be-bop, classic rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, blues, reggae, rap, country and maybe (if you’re lucky) the music of the ’70s.
- It lets you be a dog, a lion, a pigeon, a cat, a cow, a frog, a scorpion, a crane, a camel, a corpse, a triangle, a warrior, a hero, a boat, a chair, a tree and a mountain. All in about an hour.
Yoga is, above all, about the journey and not the destination. The method is what makes you a yogi — the practice, practice, practice — not the extension of a leg or the balance on a palm.
You can do it. So do it. (And double if you love it.)