And you thought yoga was just stretching…

I was asked the other day, “Why don’t you just join a gym”? My answer was that along with the occasional walk outdoors, yoga is all that I need. His response was predictable: “Yoga…isn’t that just stretching?”

I smirked at the familiarity of the question and proceeded to explain to him the theme of this article. As I told him and for those who may not know otherwise: No, Yoga is way more than just stretching or getting into supposedly awkward looking poses and positions.

It is a combination of stretching, breathing exercises, meditation and perhaps the most overlooked limb, adherence to a proper diet.

The word yoga, from the Sanskrit word yuj means to yoke or bind and is often interpreted as a “union” or a method of discipline. Its ultimate goal is the union of man with God or the universe in one breath. Furthermore, it aims to liberate the spirit as the mind and spirit are equally involved in its practice.

Yoga is indeed the oldest existing physical-culture system in the world. Besides being a systematic and scientifically proven path to attaining physical fitness, it delays aging, rejuvenates and improves one’s appearance, maintains suppleness and increases vitality and the creative part of life.

With its core warm-up exercises known as the Sun Salutations, the inversion poses, forward and backward bending poses, balancing exercises for the arms and building focus, the average practitioner will attest to the fact that for attaining fitness, Yoga can stand its own.

Think Yoga can’t help with building strength? Think again. I challenge the most adept body-builder to hold the simple yet powerful peacock-pose for 90 seconds straight.

Yoga also offers unique breathing exercises which are wonderful for patients with respiratory disorders and even singers and public speakers, moreover with its unique relaxation pose, often times practiced during and after its execution, Yoga offers a systematic means of deeply relaxing the entire body perhaps the way no other exercise can. (Keep in mind of course that several of the poses give a deep body massage not unlike the ones received in salons…just thought I should throw that in.)

With countless classes being offered for all ages, levels of fitness and experience, I suggest you give it a trial and see for yourself what it can do.

One thing I promise you is this; you will walk out of your class and nod in agreement that indeed: “yoga is way more than just stretching.” It is THE exercise.

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12 Healthy Living Tips to Keep that Post Yogic Glow

As a yoga teacher, many of my yoga students ask what they can do on a daily basis to cultivate and deepen their understanding of living a healthier yogic lifestyle.

Here, in no particular order are ten habits to adopt on a daily basis to keep you in the flow and maintain your inner yoga glow.

Top Ten Healthy Living Tips

1. As you wake up in the morning, spend the first few minutes in silence and quiet reflection. Quietly observe how you feel and make a conscious effort to gently stretch yourself awake and enjoy the feeling of being alive.

2. Take pleasure in the simple things in life – for instance, notice any random acts of kindness in yourself and others.

3. When you eat take a few moments to give thanks for your food, to acknowledge your role in the whole food cycle process and to eat with a sense of reverence and respect for your food.

4. Acknowledge others, take time to say please and thank you, especially thank you, at every opportunity you can.

5. Be genuine and thoughtful in the way you speak and listen. Give friends and family the space to talk and share what’s on their hearts, without imposing your opinions and comments.

6. Do some gentle yoga stretches every day. Spend 5 – 20 minutes practicing your favourite postures. Choose a time that suits you, maybe an early morning before you go to work sequence or a more calming routine before you go to bed.

7. Breathe. During your day, take time to take a break and breathe. A few rounds of deep yogic breathing will instantly revive and lift your spirits.

8. See the beauty and good in all situations. Sometimes life gets you down and you find it hard to feel upbeat and cheerful. That’s OK, just hold in your heart the truth that there is always beauty to be found in any situation. The saying every cloud has a silver lining is true.

9. Be spontaneous but not reckless, just allow yourself the space and time to follow your intuition and see where it leads. If the time isn’t right for you to jump up and down in puddles, then just close your eyes and imagine yourself doing it instead.

10. Keep your heart open to love. Life has a way of shutting you down, or making you close your heart and put the thorns up. You only have one life, so take a chance on love.

11. Be creative. What childhood passion have you let go of? Reclaim your childhood hobbies and who knows, you could even make it a business opportunity.

12. Give yourself a hand and mini facial massage before going to bed. Enjoy the sense of calm and relief as you massage your daily cares away and invite calm and tranquillity into your sleep.

As you can see, there are numerous ways in which you can recapture and retain that post yogic bliss in your everyday life. Start small, maybe just pick two or three of the above healthy living tips and see what a difference it makes to your sense of well being and vitality.

Blessings From Ntathu Allen, Yoga and Meditation Teacher.

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Welcome to Yoga Garden’s Blog!

Namaste. We look forward to posting hot yoga topics, educational articles, training videos, interviews and more. This is not a venue to promote our studio – that is what our website is for! – but to educate our students and to provide a forum for all of us to share our views, comments, requests, and to promote a sense of community. We hope to hear you here soon! Om Shanti Om.

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