Reasons Why You Need Yoga in Your Life

The various health benefits of yoga continue to be more and more widely known. Many of us would like to stay active and fit, but are not certain concerning which activity would correspond to us best.

Keili is a certified yoga teacher and the president of the AUP Yoga Club. She is passionate about helping people feeling more relax and confident in their lives. Keili accepted to share with us some crucial information about the practice of yoga.

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What personal benefits do you get from yoga? (Health, sleeping better, feeling more relaxed?)

Yoga is beneficial on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level. Each type of yoga concentrates on one or more of these human traits. In Vinyasa and Hatha yoga, the Uddiyana Bandha (abdominal core lock) is employed throughout the sequence, which strengthens the core. Kundilini Yoga, however, is more meditative in the sense where its mantras and breathing techniques, teach you how to quiet the mind, adopt a more positive outlook on life, and treat yourself with love.

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Do I have to be vegetarian to practice yoga?

Traditionally, one of the ethical rules or, Yamas of Hinduism, and yoga, is Ahimsa (compassion for all living things). That being said, most of the yoga we practice in the U.S or in Europe is extremely westernized. In the west “do what benefits you” is the mantra and the practice of yoga is guided towards self-pleasure. If one feels guilty about being a meat lover (like myself), they may try to opt for an organic or free range option. At least the animal isn’t stuffed in a small space and forced to eat things its body can’t properly digest.

I’m not flexible can I do yoga?

One of the major benefits of yoga is attaining flexibility, mostly of the spine and hamstrings. Therefore, if you’re not flexible, you should absolutely do yoga. In my experience, heated yoga is the best for flexibility because it warms up your muscles. It also allows one to stretch further than normal. However one must be mindful of the body and not over exert it, particularly on backbends and poses that put stress on knees.

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How many times per week should I practice? 

As a student, aim to practice at least three times a week. Add a 5-minute yoga warm up and cool down to your workout, in order to avoid an injury. When stressed, find a quiet place to do some breathing exercises. When on the metro, meditate or practice locking the core. Yoga can be practiced anywhere, anytime. If this sounds too overwhelming, start with committing to one class a week and go from there.

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How is yoga different from other kinds of fitness?

In some ways, yoga embraces fitness completely. Due to westernization of yoga, there are power flows that highlight fitness as well as yoga. Generally, yoga focuses more on controlling the breath while the body is still. This may sound easy, but it is quite the opposite. Try holding a squat with your heels lifted and your arms extended upwards for 20 seconds while breathing steadily through your nose.

That being said, yoga differs from other forms of fitness because it goes far beyond the physical. It encourages you to live a selfless lifestyle that brings happiness to others as well as yourself. It helps you allow yourself to let go of the thoughts, emotions, people, and situations that do not benefit you, through forgiveness, acceptance, and gratitude. It also causes you to connect with people. After every class I massages to the students, and infuse the room with essential oils, pretty much the norm for yoga classes nowadays. Many Ohm meditations are done with everyone sitting in a circle, touching knees and interlacing arms. If that experience doesn’t spark an epiphany that we are all just humans on the same planet, born to love, I don’t know what will.

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What do I need to begin?

Yourself… and water. Most yoga studios provide mats to practice on and blocks and straps to get deeper into poses. Studios that offer power yoga typically have a rack of weights.
However, its good to remember that throughout the day and the following day, to keep well hydrated. Bring a small towel to heated classes to wipe off sweat and retain grip in balancing postures. Try not to eat two hours before a class, all the bending and stretching can make you queasy. Personally, I prefer practicing yoga on an empty stomach because of the deepening into stretches, but make sure that you are eating something with sustenance, like a least piece of fruit or some nuts.

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