Time to break out those Lululemon leggings that you only wear to brunch and put them to good use, aka it’s yoga flow time. While most people consider yoga not a real form of exercise, and only intended for girls and real housewives, I’m here to show you quite the opposite. Yoga is not only crucial for physical health, but mental health as well. It’s so much more than sitting in a room, stretching and saying the occasional ‘Om’ — it gives your body benefits that not many other forms of exercise, let alone other activities, can.
Besides the fact that yoga workout gear is undeniably the cutest and most customizable, the practice (yes, practice, not workout) gives you incredible benefits while also allowing you to look v cute on that hot pink flowered yoga mat. The practice is beneficial for people of all ages, whether they are 12 or 55, as it is about improving your own healthy lifestyle, no matter the stage of life you are currently in. As you deeply inhale and exhale while holding a strengthening (read: empowering) pose, your mind is at ease while your body trains. This tranquil intensity relieves stress and reorganizes your mind to be calm and at peace, allowing you to be present and focus solely on your body as you move.
That being said, there is a wide range of varying yoga styles, each to fit what you are looking to get out of your practice that day, whether it be hot yoga, or power yoga. Bikram yoga (‘hot yoga’) is for those who are looking for a deeper and more challenging practice. The space for this practice is set around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, allowing for a greater elimination of toxins from the body through increased sweating. Aka, after an hour and a half of this, you will be the sweatiest mess of a person, but you’ll be detoxified and refreshed. Power yoga, also called flow yoga, is the basic Ashtanga yoga, which requires more endurance and strength as you will be holding your poses for longer amounts of time, and will be ‘flowing,’ through many isometric sequences. These sequences tone your arms, shoulders, booty, back, thighs…basically your entire body, since you are using your whole core and body to remain in each pose. Power yoga is an amazing way to build core strength, balance and flexibility, which are restorative and empowering for any person, at any age or fitness level.
Still not convinced? What if you knew that a one-hour session of yoga could make you happier? A study by Boston University School of Medicine claimed that one hour of asanas increased the amount of the brain chemical GABA by 27 percent (low levels linked with depression). Practicing yoga regularly can also improve the way you think about yourself and your own body. The University of California at Berkeley studied women who practiced yoga and concluded that in comparison with women who took aerobics classes, those who practiced yoga rated their bodies 20 percent higher. As opposed to many other forms of exercise, yoga asks you to listen to your body, and be proud of what it is capable of, rather than what it does or does not look like.
Hopefully this winter you’ll be motivated to sign up for yoga at Union, or practice in the comfort of your own room, (I recommend 'Yoga With Adrienne' on YouTube). Namaste!