Monday, April 27, 2009

Benefits of Taking a Yoga Class

I have to admit, it took me many years to get to a real yoga class. I'd done yoga intermittently with CD's or yoga TV shows, but just hadn't gone to a real live yoga class. About a month ago, I decided to jump into the class at the YMCA and now, one month later, I've already seen the benefits. Even though I haven't lost any weight in pounds, all my clothes are looser, my joints and muscles feel better and more toned and my balance has improved. All in just one month!

I'd been going to the Y for exercise classes of various sorts for nearly 2 years and although they have a yoga class, I guess I was afraid the students would be much more advanced than I was or that I couldn't keep up, now that I'm approaching "senior exercise" status. Once I walked into the class though, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was.

The yoga class I am going to is for all experience levels. The instructor starts out easy and then says, "if you feel comfortable here, you can add this....." I found there are several good things about taking a yoga class over watching a CD or a TV show.

1. Working with a yoga instructor is helpful for correcting mistakes you may be making without knowing it. With yoga alignment and balance are very important so it's best to learn it the proper way for the most benefit.

2. Being in a yoga class is inspiring. You see people around you doing these wonderfully impossible seeming stretches and think "That's what I want to be doing too!"

3. You try harder when you're in a class to improve. Although they say there's no comparisons made and you should only do what your body allows, you want to do well when you're in a group.

4. Committing to a yoga class keeps you motivated to continue. I don't like missing class, whereas it was easy to get busy during the day and realize I hadn't turned on my yoga CD. When you take a class, you can set aside that specific time and make an appointment with yourself to do something FOR yourself.

5. Taking a class forces you to be patient and get the most out of the poses and the meditation session at the end. When I do yoga on my own or with a CD, I tend not to hold the poses as long as we do in class. I get impatient to move on to the next thing when I'm on my own and often skipped the relaxation/meditation part at the end, just to save time. Class is one hour long and I rarely can do more than 20 minutes if I do yoga at home on my own.

6. Taking a class teaches you something new every week. If you use a yoga CD, it's just the same routine each time.

7. You take that relaxed feeling into the rest of your day.

8. You become more aware of your body throughout the day. Your posture straightens, you breathe deeper and more consciously relax your body, even outside of class.

Even after just one month, I definitely can feel the difference in my body. It just feels better. More balanced and centered. My clothes are looser on me, even though I haven't lost a pound. And I feel I'm eating better because my body feels better.

If you've never tried a yoga class, look for one near you at the local YMCA, yoga studio or community center. You'll be glad you did.

Find free yoga classes online.

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