Yoga Your Own Way
Find Your Yoga Style
I never thought I'd find myself in downward dog in the middle of New York City, not caring about the tourists staring and taking pictures of my sky-bound butt while sweat and sunscreen dripped into my eyes. But there I was, doing just that, not once, but once a week for an entire summer.
And I wasn't alone. What started as a small yoga class of 10-15 students in Bryant Park in 2005 grew to a class of more than 200 people three years later. In parks, on beaches, at hotels, in swimming pools, and especially in their own living rooms, people are doing yoga everywhere. According to the Yoga Health Foundation, 20 million Americans are practicing yoga, and that number is quickly rising.
So why are more people adding yoga bends and twists to their fitness routine?
Johannes R. Fisslinger of the Yoga Health Foundation and founder of Yoga Month, a nationwide campaign to promote health awareness, has a simple explanation for yoga's growing popularity: "Because it works!"
He's right. When you practice yoga even once, you can immediately see its benefits: Your posture is better, you feel more flexible, and your body becomes more toned. (Need proof? Take a look at Madonna's buff biceps or Gwyneth Paltrow's firm figure. That's yoga.)
Fisslinger adds that yoga's benefits extend well beyond your body. Whether you're relaxed and lying down in corpse pose or trying to balance in tree pose, yoga engages your mind, body, and spirit. "There's an emotional and mental connection," says Fisslinger. "It affects your whole being. Yoga centers you and gives you inner strength."
And experts say yogic breathing techniques can help insomniacs sleep better and ease anxiety and depression. Still other research shows that people who practice yoga lose weight and maintain a healthy weight more easily than those who don't practice yoga. And if that's not enough to make you do some sun salutations, a consistent yoga practice can also lead to a healthier heart in just six weeks, according to a Yale University School of Medicine study.
Can you tell we love yoga here at FitnessMagazine.com? We're addicted, and we feel out-of-alignment, stressed, and confused when we don't get our fix. The great news is that you don't have to join a posh yoga studio to make yoga part of your fit life: You can still reap the benefits of yoga in ways that better fit your style. Whether you're on a tight budget, a dedicated gym-goer, a runner, a hardcore video gamer (or mother of one), or a gymnastics enthusiast, we've found a yoga class for you.
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