Yoga can be a great vehicle for positive physical and mental transformation
Rooted in Indian philosophy, yoga is an ancient method of relaxation and regarded by many as a spiritual experience. However, in the last five years yoga has become ubiquitous, with independent studios sprouting everywhere and fitness centers incorporating yoga classes into their group instruction curriculum.
Although some people still view yoga as a practice reserved for spiritual seekers looking for inner peace, yoga is rapidly being embraced by many Americans as an alternative way to increase strength, endurance and body tone.
Yoga can be a great vehicle for positive physical and mental transformation. Ultimately, trial and error is the best way to determine which style of yoga is right for you. Trying different classes and different teachers can help you find one that meets your needs.
With so many styles of yoga, and its growing popularity, fitness centers and independent studios have begun to group yoga disciplines. For example, you might attend a class called restorative yoga or athletic yoga. Broad terms are used to help students relate to the practice and get a general sense of the flow of the class.
You may also encounter hybrid fitness classes that incorporate yoga techniques, such as yogalates (a combination of yoga and Pilates), spin yoga (a class of half cycling and half yoga), and kids’ yoga (promoting movement, physical expression and inner spirit for kids).
Yoga strengthens parts of the brain that play a key role in memory, attention, awareness, thought, and language. Think of it as weightlifting for the brain.
Studies using MRI scans and other brain imaging technology have shown that people who regularly did yoga had a thicker cerebral cortex (the area of the brain responsible for information processing) and hippocampus (the area of the brain involved in learning and memory) compared with nonpractitioners.
These areas of the brain typically shrink as you age, but the older yoga practitioners showed less shrinkage than those who did no yoga. This suggests that yoga may counteract age-related declines in memory and other cognitive skills.
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