An Appeal for Yoga in the New Year

 

Namaste, future yogis!
Today, in this New Year’s Day inaugural issue of The Pittsburg Appeal, I want to talk to you about New Year’s resolutions on health and wellness.  According to a recent article in U.S. News, 80% of all New Year’s resolutions (which are often aimed at improving health) fail.
That’s a lot of people who want to get their life back on track—whether that means eating healthier, exercising more, taking time to de-stress, or clearing out the negative energy that can overwhelm our lives—but who just can’t seem to keep that intention going very far past the first few months of the new year.
Perhaps many of these resolutions fail because they are based on the premise that how you are now is “wrong” and that there is some standard you must meet during the course of just one year in order to become “right.”  So many diet and exercise programs pit your mind vs. your body in a game of willpower, as if your body was somehow the “bad” part of you that must be whipped into shape with hundreds of body aching burpees, crunches, and miles of high impact running, all that can leave your post-workout body crumpled and gasping for breath.  But hey, no pain, no gain, right?  Let’s adjust our thinking on the relationship between our body, our mind, and our health.
U.S.A Today reports that in 2013, 24 million American adults practiced yoga (that’s 1 in 15 people), and since 2012 Medicare has covered rehab programs that include yoga.  That’s not a bad modern endorsement for a practice that some estimate to be 5000 years old!

Yoga originated in India and is an ancient form of physical, mental, and spiritual fitness that can be practiced by anyone, no matter your health or level of ability.  Unlike other popular forms of exercise (see mind vs. body above), yoga takes a wholeness approach to wellness, meaning that the health of the mind, body, and spirit are all connected and must be viewed, and therefore “exercised,” as one.

For these reasons, I believe that taking a yoga approach to your New Year’s health resolutions could actually make your resolutions stick this year.  Let go of the shame associated with repeated resolution and health failures; let go of the physical and mental pain of gasping for breath and pushing your body to its limit of exertion; let go of the stress caused by thinking about your health; let go of feeling sluggish, fatigued, disconnected.
To me, the goal of yoga is to cultivate compassion and peace; both in the self, in one’s community, and throughout all humankind.  That starts with fixing the relationship you have with your body and with your Self.  Here are just a few ways yoga can begin to benefit you almost instantly after beginning a practice.  For a more exhaustive list, check out this YogaJournal article.

 Strength, Flexibility, & Balance

From muscles down to connective tissue, limbering up and toning makes us feel better.  I hear all the time “I’m not flexible enough to do yoga!” which is really ridiculous—yoga is a journey and you have to start somewhere; the desire for more flexibility and strength is a reason to start yoga, not a reason to stay away.


Stress Relief

Have you ever just sat and listened to the rhythm of your own breath while letting all other cares and worries melt away?  That little slice of heaven is yoga! Studies show that yoga actually re-trains the way our brains deal with stress, making us better able to handle stressful situations in all aspects of our lives.

Overall Wellness

From joint and bone health to a boosted immune system, to better circulation, yoga offers many internal physical benefits.  Feeling better mentally and physically is a great stepping stone to making improvements in all areas of our lives, including a healthier diet and a more positive outlook.

Happiness

Yoga teaches us to love ourselves and in turn love others.  It’s a great tool for improving mental health and gaining an expanded and positive view of the world around us.

Considering all these benefits, do yourself a favor in the new year and start yourself a yoga practice.  There are a few different teachers and several public classes right here in Pittsburg:

Yoga Basics 101
Parks & Recreation Dept./Lincoln Center M/W @ 4pm.  $30 for 1 month.  Contact the city at 620-231-8310.

Beginning/Continuing Yoga
Pittsburg Family  YMCA T/TH @ 5:30pm.  Free for Y members, fee for non-members.  Contact the Y at 620-231-1100.

Beginning/Continuing Yoga
PSU Student Recreation M/W @ 6pm.  Free and open only to PSU students, faculty, and staff.

Theraputic Yoga
Via Christi Hospital M @ 4pm.  Free.  5th floor of the hospital.

Check back regularly for more yoga and health & wellness information from me in The Pittsburg Appeal!

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