If Not Now, When? Building a Yoga Practice

By Mary Simmons, Village Yoga Instructor

One of the benefits, and purposes, of a yoga and meditation practice is to find stillness in order to calm the storms of the mind so that we can hear our own unique inner voice, the divine that lives in each of us. It is the guiding principle of the yoga classes that I teach — to slow down and learn to be still. I remind my students often that what we practice on the mat helps prepare us for life off the mat.

 

Why Yoga, Now?

 

Well, guess what? Atha (which means now) is here! Now, real life has arrived… with a vengeance! And as exhorted by Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 1.1, NOW, Now the practice of Yoga begins! And if not now, when?

Now, we have the opportunity to put all the hours we have spent on the yoga mat and the meditation cushion into practice. The uncomfortable breaths we have spent in chair pose and warrior I, the seemingly endless minutes endured in dragon pose, the extra long moments facing ourselves in meditation, now we understand the purpose.

 

Yoga & Meditation Build Resilience

 

Through our yoga practice, we have been training for this moment, for this very moment, now. Practicing on the mat and the cushion so that we can now be the calm, still, center in the midst of this global pandemic and its fallout. Using the techniques of our practice, we know how to settle our breath in this moment and we know how to settle our feet on the shifting ground beneath our feet.

 

Now we are able to breathe in deeply and exhale with a sigh and a gentle smile on our faces. We have been here before, on our mats and our cushions. We have experienced the fear, the boredom, the confusion, the frustration, the irritation, the discomfort and the uncertainty. And now, we practice Yoga! After all, if not now, when?

 

A routine yoga and meditation practice is a wonderful way to achieve the calm-centeredness that allows us to get through the now, and the future, and the uncertain and challenging moments. Beyond being a great exercise for the whole body, yoga and meditation and healing and powerful for the mind and soul. If you’re curious about yoga and meditation, sign up for a class at Village Health Clubs and Spas to see what it’s all about — and how a regular practice can help you achieve a calm approach to your now.

How Yoga Can Help with Anxiety and Stress

Yoga is one of the most beneficial whole body exercises for people of all ages and fitness levels. When practiced regularly, it can positively impact the mind, body, and soul. And did you know it can also help reduce stress and anxiety levels? We could all use some stress and anxiety relievers! So let’s take a look at how yoga can help with anxiety and stress.

 

A Bit About Yoga as a Practice

But first, let’s talk a little about the yoga practice itself. Yoga is a more than 5,000-year-old mind-body practice. Itencompasses many styles, all of which focus on breathing techniques to maximize their benefits. Yoga also focuses on the seven major chakras to free blocked energies, which can manifest in issues of imbalances in the body, including anxiety. Traditional yoga has come a long way as its popularity has skyrocketed in the last few decades. You may have heard of a variety of types of yoga such as power yoga, a more athletic yoga practice based on ashtanga; hot yoga, practiced in purposefully hot and humid conditions; and even aerial yoga, which implements a silk hammock suspended from the ceiling. Yoga can be gentle and powerful, and restorative too. It’s ideal for pregnantwomen, seniors and kids. Overall it’s a great practice to begin at any age or stage in life — and its benefits are numerous.

 

Yoga in Science

According to the Mayo Clinic, multiple studies have shown that yoga may help reduce stress and anxiety, and “can also enhance your mood and overall sense of well-being.” This could be due to the controlled breathing aspect of yoga, which can be calming during an anxiety-inducing situation, or due to the meditation elements of yoga, which can help people be more mindful and be in the present moment (versus worrying or stressing about something that they can’t control, that hasn’t happened, or may not even happen).

An article on the New York Times website explains one way yoga reduces stress is “through regulating the nervous system — specifically the autonomic nervous and its response to stress.” The article suggests this can be done by literally toning your nervous system through a balance of both slow, calm yoga practices and more rigorous ones, which can “help improve our nervous system’s ability to find balance and cope with stress.”

Further still, an article on the Harvard Medical School website provides more scientific backing, noting: “By reducing perceived stress and anxiety, yoga appears to modulate stress response systems. This, in turn, decreases physiological arousal — for example, reducing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and easing respiration. There is also evidence that yoga practices help increase heart rate variability, an indicator of the body’s ability to respond to stress more flexibly.”

There’s no time like the present to become more mindful and in the present moment — especially in the name of reducing stress and anxiety. And we haven’t even touched on all the other amazing benefits of yoga including increased muscle tone, increased energy, a stronger heart, expanded lung capacity, chronic pain relief, weight loss, detoxification and improved balance, flexibility, and strength! The Village near you has a variety of yoga classes including traditional, hot yoga, restorative, and aerial yoga too. So what are you waiting for? Reduce your stress and anxiety levels with yoga at the Village!

Elevate your body and mood with Aerial Yoga

Aerial Yoga hasrecentlygained attention and popularity due toits many healing benefits for the body. The Village Health Club and Spa is thrilled to offers its members this type of class — and all the wonderful benefits that come with it!

Trying an Aerial Yoga classjust oncewill automatically lift your mood simply due to the excitement that comes when trying something unique, fun,and new! Anyone from beginners to those experienced in yoga can do Aerial Yoga. I love introducing members of the Village to this engaging and one-of-a-kind practice.

The silk hammocks are used as props during class, much like a block or strap is used in a regular yoga class, in order to stabilize the body while maintaining proper alignment. This allows the body to feel supported as you relax, therefore allowing for a deeper stretch.

When blood flow rushes to the brain, it acts as a mental “reset” button to naturally increase your focus, clarity and attention level. This helps your mood if you are feeling foggy or are experiencing a lack of concentration, and it will give you energy for your day.

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