By Helen Fong, BSc, CYT
Yoga as a physical practice (asana) has obvious benefits for cardiovascular health, flexibility, lung capacity, mental clarity (more oxygen to the brain!), muscle strength and body awareness. Both men and woman can benefit from this, right? Of course. However, when people practice yoga in a broader sense, beyond the physical, this can bring an overall richness to body, mind and spirit. Yoga can be practiced “off the mat” too.
There are eight limbs of yoga:
- yamas (your attitude to the world around you)
- niyamas (how you treat yourself)
- asana (physical poses)
- pranayama (breathing exercises)
- prathayara (sensory withdrawal)
- dharana (concentration)
- dhyana (meditation – observing the mind)
- samadhi (enlightenment – oneness with you & the universe)
Self-esteem, body awareness and satisfaction with your life can benefit from a regular physical yoga practice. Women tend to work at multiple levels of awareness, while men tend to work better with a single focused awareness.
Many female students have shared with me that yoga has helped them feel calmer yet alert when handling their multiple roles as a workingwoman, mother, wife, and/or daughter, etc. Some poses that concentrate on the pelvic area like Supta Baddha Konasana (reclined butterfly), janu sirsasana (seated pose head-to-knee) and prasarita padottanasana (wide-legged standing forward bend) help increase the blood flow in the areas of the hips and groins. Reclined Butterfly is a highly restorative pose (one of many) that contributes to reproductive health and fertility.
Male students who attend a yoga class tend to gravitate towards poses that challenge strength, endurance, and vigor, therefore, enhancing these same qualities that men display. But, on the same note, yoga poses can also improve health related factors by manipulating the organs and muscles in the body. Again, certain yoga poses that concentrate on the pelvic area can have therapeutic benefits in combating impotency or erectile dysfunction.
For men or women who train in sports or other physical activities, yoga can be a great compliment to an injury-free lifestyle.
I would suggest about two studio practices per week, and daily meditation practice for both men and women. This can prevent or treat potential medical conditions from stroke, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, depression, and much more. I’ve personally witnessed a male student who could hardly walk before he started yoga. After 8 months, he lost 30 lbs, needs less asthma medication, has better posture, increased his flexibility, and improved his outlook on life. This is truly inspirational.
Yes, yoga is the answer! Open your mind, body and heart to yoga this week. Your health could depend on it.
Peace & Namaste,
Helen Fong is a 200 hours Certified Yoga Teacher in the Halifax Regional Municipality and has also worked in the health care industry for the last 10 years (in clinical research). She was born and raised in Halifax & Dartmouth. Helen enjoys living a healthy lifestyle and staying active in her community. To find out more about this eclectic lady, please visit her website today!