BY LINDSAY BAILLIE
Yoga is the union or connection of the mind, body, and soul. In the United States, yoga is used for a variety of things; however, it is primarily done to reduce stress and/or anxiety as well as for fitness purposes. Yoga focuses on the self and the breath. Most of the postures (asanas) are linked with the breath (pranayama) and used in a flow-like series. This controlled breathing is great for reducing stress and focusing inward.
Yoga helps strengthen the mind, body, and soul. Meditation and a daily yogic practice help to level the mind and work through stresses and anxieties. Certain poses are often linked to subconscious fears that are conquered over years of practice.
The fitness aspect of yoga lies in the postures. Collectively, the poses engage all muscles of the body and are great for toning specific areas. The longer you practice yoga, the more open and accepting you may become. This allows the mind, body, and soul to relax in situations that would usually cause stress or strain.
There are many different styles of yoga. Hatha, Iyengar, Vinyasa, and Bikram yoga are just some of the types of classes you can take. Most yoga studios and gyms offer Hatha yoga classes, which focus on the individual postures.
Iyengar focuses on the alignment of the body and the postures are generally held for a longer period of time.
Vinyasa yoga includes a flow of postures and rhythmic breathing. This style is great for those that want the fitness aspect of yoga.
Bikram is a style of yoga that is completed in an extremely hot room. The temperatures are generally over 100 degrees; this heat promotes the release of toxins from the body.
Aerial and partner yoga are popping up in studios as well. Most Aerial studios have props that allow the students to suspend from the ceiling. This type of yoga provides a different experience for most students and can be coupled with partner yoga.
There are at least fifty yoga studios on Long Island, ranging from Bikram yoga to a general Hatha flow. Most studios have a first class free policy, which allows new students to experience the studio before committing to multiple classes. The prices of classes differ depending on the studio. Some studios even have donation-based classes, where you can attend a class for as low as five dollars.
At St. Joseph’s College, you can register for a one credit yoga class or attend free classes throughout the semester. The Health and Wellness Center provides various yoga classes that emphasize postures, breathing, and meditation.
As a soon-to-be-certified yoga teacher, I can attest to the benefits of yoga. Over the course of a four year practice, I have noticed a significant decrease in anxiety. With the use of controlled breathing and postures, you can strengthen your mind, body, and soul.
Yoga encourages its participants to create mantras, live healthier lives and open their hearts. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be flexible to practice yoga. If you are looking for a way to reduce stress and strengthen your entire being, try a yoga class. All it takes is a mat and an open mind.