Health Tips: Get the Full Benefits of Yoga

Yoga has grown in popularity for a variety of reasons. Among them is its ability to reduce mental and physical stress, improve mood, and slow the aging process.

However, some yogis feel that many students of yoga are missing the healthy mind-body connection that accompanies the practice of yoga. They also worry about injuries resulting from beginners who attempt advanced poses without proper guidance.

Mary Jo Ricketson, an experienced yoga practitioner and healthcare specialist, author of Moving Meditation, and a registered nurse, outlines important yoga steps for beginners (and the advanced) to maximize yoga results:

>> Cardiovascular (aerobic) training: As with meditation, focused breathing is a cornerstone of mind-body training. Aerobic means “with oxygen” and aerobic movement increases the flow of oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. Cardiovascular training is the single most important aspect of physical training because it keeps the heart open and strong.

>> Core and strength training: This includes the students’ abdomen and buttocks and the lower back region extending up to the base of the skull. Here is where strength, stability, and balance originate.

>> Flexibility training (yoga postures): Stretching feels good, and it reminds students not only to be more flexible in one’s body, but also one’s mind.

>> Adequate rest: Sleep is a necessary part of life and sufficient rest is needed for energy and equilibrium.

>> Life-giving nutrition: Making the right choices in food allows yoga students to achieve an optimal, balanced state. This includes nutritional foods consumed in moderation.

>> Family/community/church: From Epicurus to modern science, observation shows we find greater happiness with access to friends and family.

>> Written goals and a plan of action: Goals and stated intention act as a road map to achieve balanced well-being.