◆ Yoga creates a connection to healthy living in every aspect of the human experience.
• SVI is launching a new Fitness Series on the Health Page that will feature exercise options, ideas and tips. This article is the first in a series about Yoga as an exercise and lifestyle option.
Yoga has long been a means of moving, stretching and strengthening the body in gentle ways and at levels tailored to the individual. If you are looking for something to keep you moving after an injury or surgery, after child-birth, or in your later years, yoga might be a good choice for your daily exercise routine.
“I do yoga almost every day,” said Mikaela Byrd of Star Valley Ranch. “I tried a class in college [13 years ago], and it was the feeling of it – the feeling of strength and stretching at the same time and the feeling of becoming more open that kept me going. I loved the feeling of meditation when my brain was clear and empty, so relaxed.”
According to hopkinsmedicine.org, which shares health guidelines from the Johns Hopkins Health System, regardless of your level of yoga expertise, with regular practice, yoga can help you feel better. Yoga offers physical and psychological health benefits for people of all ages.
“And, if you’re going through an illness, recovering from surgery or living with a chronic condition, yoga can become an integral part of your treatment and potentially hasten healing. Yoga therapists can work with patients and put together individualized plans that work together with their medical and surgical therapies. That way, yoga can support the healing process and help the person experience symptoms with more centeredness and less distress.”
“The U.S. military, the National Institutes of Health and other large organizations are incorporating scientific validation of yoga’s value in health care,” states hopkinsmedicine.org. “Numerous studies show yoga’s benefits in arthritis, osteopenia, balance issues, oncology, women’s health, chronic pain, and other specialties.
For Byrd, yoga creates a connection to healthy living in every aspect of the human experience. She feels stronger, more flexible and more balanced. She feels clarity in connecting her mind and breath with movement in ways that promote inspired living. As she moves through her yoga routine each day, she finds herself learning life skills and life lessons on her yoga mat.
“There’s a whole philosophy – a whole lifestyle – within yoga,” said Byrd. “You can carry the lessons from yoga into all of the rest of your life. There is a phrase they say, ‘root to rise.’ You press into the ground to be able to lift yourself up. Find where your connections are. Root into the ground. Be grounded and solid and know what your foundation is, and from there, you build a strong life. The more I have done yoga, the more I have learned from it. It’s just beautiful.”
Byrd loves that each yoga pose promotes stretching from the center of the body out into the space around you. It’s a philosophy of expansion, filling space, taking up as much space as possible. “A lot of times, we diminish ourselves with apologies about everything we do. That’s another Yoga idea that I like. I can allow myself to expand and stretch, and that’s good.”
Having injured herself doing a high-intensity cardio exercise, Byrd prefers the gentle nature of Yoga. Individuals of all ages and ability levels can safely begin using yoga for improved health and tailor it to meet their personal needs.
“For me, it’s an exercise that will grow with you,” said Byrd. “It can be very gentle for strengthening and increasing flexibility and balance. Whatever exercise you are doing, it will help and make it less likely for you to be injured in your other activities.”
“The life lessons and the psychological benefits of it are just as profound,” Byrd continued. “There’s the meditative aspect and the breathing skills. It helps you to live life more calmly. You give yourself space to respond to life gracefully. You don’t have to control life. You can control yourself. That’s what it has taught me. You are in a space where things aren’t perfect, but you can say, ‘This was good for me today.’ When life happens and imperfect things happen, you can carry that mindset over to life and feel, ‘This is still good.’ When things are imperfect, I can feel good and I can keep going and try again tomorrow.”