Focus on Fitness: Give yoga a try |

Focus on Fitness: Give yoga a try

Michelle Meyer/For the Steamboat Today

As soon as someone who has never tried yoga finds out I am a yoga instructor, I hear some version of “I’ve been meaning to try yoga,” or “I did it once and was terrible at it.” And the most popular response: “I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible.”

The short answer or response to all these comments is, that is exactly why someone should give you a try.

With a bit more explanation, here are a few more reasons why you should give yoga a try. The potential benefits are far greater than those listed here … prove it to yourself and give yoga a try.

• Increase flexibility — Most people don’t practice yoga because they are already flexible; they practice yoga to help improve their flexibility and ease tightness. One or two yoga classes will not magically help you touch the floor, but with time, patience and consistency, you can improve your flexibility.

• Reduce stress — Most of us tend to fill our days/nights with a busy lifestyle. We tend to over-schedule, over-commit and even overeat. We worry about money, relationships, health, our environment and the world at large. There is no shortage of stressors in our lives. Yoga offers you the opportunity to slow down, connect with your breath and movement of your body. By practicing an awareness of your breath patterns, you can help relieve stress responses and begin to feel calmer and less stressed.

• Build strength/muscles — Depending on the type of yoga you practice — and there are lots of options — you will use simple body weight to build strength. Before you attend a yoga class or buy an instructional video, read the description and be sure it meets your goals. Yoga can be meditative and restorative, it can be invigorating and athletic, it can be challenging or relaxing. Talk to the instructor, read video reviews and find a yoga practice that meets your needs and goals.

• Help prevent injuries — Whether you’re an athlete or an active person, yoga can help you develop a greater awareness of your body and physical abilities. With yoga, you may begin to notice imbalance in your body and can then work to strengthen areas of weakness or create openness where there is tightness. By connecting with how your body feels, yoga can become a tool to help prevent injuries and create physical awareness.

• Calm your mind — When was the last time you slowed down and truly felt calm or relaxed? Yoga can bring a moving meditation. What does that mean? Simply, that the instructor will guide you to move your body in sync with your breath and calm your mind. By working to stay focused on what you are feeling at that time, you can relax and try enjoying the moment. Some yoga classes or videos will offer guidance on meditation; again be sure to ask when trying a new class/video.

• Expand your horizons — We all know there are great challenges and benefits in trying something new. The mental stimulation can help build brain strength. The physical effort can challenge you in new and different ways. By slowing down and noticing your breath, you can feel calm, relaxed and maybe even realize that yoga isn’t such a bad thing. Maybe, you will even like it!

Michele Meyer is an ACE certified personal trainer, Yoga Alliance certified instructor and spinning certified at Old Town Hot Springs.

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