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Getting Bent Into Shape In Texas, Or Yoga For Beginners

Aug 17, 2007
Yoga has become a very popular form of physical activity for many individuals in Dallas, Houston and elsewhere in Texas. It involves both physical and mental balance and is good for strengthening your "inner core." It's an activity that individuals can take at their own pace. In other words, it can be as light or as vigorous as you want to make it.

Where did Yoga come from?
The practice of Yoga is thousands of years old. The word itself means "union" in Sanskrit, which was the language of ancient India, where Yoga originated. So quite literally, you can say Yoga is the union that happens between mind, body and spirit.

But Yoga is probably more accurately described in Sanskrit as "asana," which is the practice of physical postures or poses. And yet, Asana is only one of the eight types of Yoga. The majority of Yoga practices involve mental and spiritual well being, rather than physical activity. However, the words asana and Yoga have become almost synonymous these days.

Yoga poses.
Many people believe that Yoga is just about stretching. And yes, stretching is involved, but Yoga is really more about creating balance in the body by developing both strength and flexibility, which is done through the performance of poses.

Each pose has specific physical benefits. And the poses, when done quickly in succession, create heat the body through movement, or, when done more slowly, increase stamina and perfect the alignment of the pose. There is an ideal way that each pose should be done, although not all yogis (Yoga masters) will agree on what is the perfect pose.

Yoga practice makes for perfect poses.
When you begin a Yoga class, you might hear your teacher refer to "your practice," which means your individual experience with Yoga over time. And with Yoga, your practice should always be evolving and changing, to make sure it never gets boring.

Many yogis will tell you that although Yoga poses do not change, your relationship to them will. Believe it or not, Yoga is for everyone, even if you don't think you're very flexible or very strong. This will all develop over time.

Thinking of Yoga as "your practice" also encourages the noncompetitive spirit of Yoga. One of the most difficult, yet most freeing things about Yoga is letting go of your ego and accepting that no one is better than anyone else. Everyone who practices Yoga is just doing his or her best.

Where everyone gets bent.
Yoga classes in Dallas, Houston and throughout Texas may also include instruction on breathing, call and response chanting, meditation, or even an inspirational reading by the teacher. This will depend on the individual teacher and the type of Yoga in which they have trained. Usually, Yoga classes held at a gym will be more focused on the physical benefits of Yoga, while classes at a Yoga center have a tendency to focus on the practice's spiritual side. Some individuals find that the physical practice of Yoga becomes a gateway to a spiritual exploration. Others just enjoy a wonderful low-impact workout that makes them feel great inside and out. Whatever type of Yoga you're attracted to, you should be able to find a class that suits your style.

The Dos and Don'ts of Yoga.
DON'T:
- Eat a big meal right before class. Eat lightly a few hours prior class.
- Drink water during class, but have some before and after.
- Wear shoes or socks during class.

DO:
- Review Yoga etiquette to feel comfortable when entering an unfamiliar situation.
- Tell the teacher it's your first class. Don't worry. You won't be alone.
- Ask the teacher for help.
- Look around and see what other students are doing. This helps if the teacher doesn't demonstrate every pose. Be careful of watching advanced students. Don't compare yourself to them.
- Familiarize yourself with some beginners' Yoga poses prior to taking your first class.
- Come back in a few days for the next class.
About the Author
Pat Carpenter writes for Precedent Insurance Company. Precedent puts a new spin on health insurance. Learn more at Precedent.com
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