Have you ever thought about taking up a sport or physical activity that can stay with you throughout your life? Try yoga! We’re living longer and staying healthier, primarily because we’re more active than previous generations and are better prepared to care for ourselves. Yoga is one of the most versatile fitness activities we can do at any age or fitness level.
What is yoga?
Developed in India, this ancient form of exercise provides benefits to every aspect of the human body — physical, mental, and emotional. It all sounds so mystical but in simple terms, yoga is a series of movements and poses that people perform according to their physical ability, and their breathing is timed to coincide with the movements. Yoga is called a “practice,” because it has no “perfect” form or style. Women and men of all ages and physical abilities practice yoga, and it can be a lifelong activity.
Yoga can improve physical strength, balance, and flexibility. During a session, which may last from 30 minutes to more than an hour, yoga forces one to concentrate, which helps clear the mind of other thoughts. The emotional benefit of yoga is unique to each person; most people derive a sense of calmness and peacefulness from the practice.
Yoga is practiced in many forms depending on personal goals such as weight loss (Ashtanga), stress management (Hatha), relaxation (Yin Yoga), and injury recovery (Iyengar). And yoga for beginners is a real thing. One of the best ways to determine which form of yoga is best for you is to visit a local yoga studio or fitness facility and talk with a certified yoga coach.
Tips to perform yoga safely
No matter your fitness level or which form of yoga you decide to practice, you want to do it safely. Here are a few tips to help you get optimal benefit from yoga while reducing risks of injury:
- Go at your own pace: Most poses can be modified to accommodate your personal level of strength, balance, stamina, and flexibility. When you’re in class with others, never try to duplicate someone else’s pose. Your coach can also help you learn each pose and movement.
- Set your intensity level: Some days you’ll have better balance than others. If you feel up to extending your abilities one day, try the tree pose. If a pose isn’t working out for you another day, just take a break from it and relax in child pose. Nobody will judge you.
- Dress accordingly: A wide variety of yoga clothing is available in most sporting goods stores. Since you’ll be moving constantly, you won’t want to wear street clothes. (FunFact: Yoga is performed barefoot or with special padded or toeless socks.)
- Use proper yoga gear: All you need are a thin yoga mat, a towel, and a water bottle to get started. As your flexibility and balance increase, you may want to use yoga blocks and straps to perform more challenging poses. This equipment is also readily available in stores that sell sports and fitness equipment.
- Relax and enjoy yourself: With yoga, you’ll get out of it what you put into it. Your intensity may change from session to session. What makes yoga perfect for — well, everyone — is that you can always modify the moves to suit your body, mind, and mood that day.
Yoga at home
If gyms or yoga studios aren’t your thing, you can order yoga DVDs designed specifically for your activity level and interests. And if you’re tech savvy, a large selection of yoga videos is available online.
Exercise is the key to staying fitter, healthier, safer, and happier.* And Teladoc is here to help. Download our mobile app to your smart phone or tablet, and you’ll have 24/7 access to a board-certified physician anywhere in the U.S. anytime you need us. Now go practice your mountain pose, have fun, and remember to end each session with Namaste.
* Be sure to talk with your primary care physician before starting any new exercise or sports routine.
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