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Finding Balance; YOGA

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       These days we are all familiar with yoga: from magazines to television, to friends and family, yoga has become a mainstream part of our culture. And yet, many of us still think of it as “stretching” when in fact, yoga is much more than that.
The practice of yoga was first developed in India and has evolved over thousands of years. Yoga disciples use poses, or “asanas” to prepare their bodies for meditation practice — much as an athlete would prepare for a sports competition. The poses can also serve as a means to alter one’s consciousness and mental focus in the spiritual quest for “enlightenment.” This spiritually trans- formative process is, in fact, the overriding purpose of the practice of hatha yoga. In essence, yoga is designed to bring body, mind and spirit into balance.
You may ask yourself, “Why do you need to worry about balance?” Through the practice of yoga, elite athletes like bicyclists, NFL players and triathlon runners, and even us weekend warriors alike, can benefit from this type of balance. This is especially true when athletes have pushed their bodies to the max, resulting in weakness or injury. Yoga can restore a weakened body and build it back up. Yoga postures, breath work and inner focus can help re-balance, strengthen and restore overtaxed muscles, joints and ligaments. Through this restoration process, athletes can increase their career longevity and develop an inner balance that will last a lifetime and many have found it to be an invaluable addition to their personal training regimen.
Balancing the mind, body and spirit is a primary philosophical principle of yoga. It is considered the “true way to honor the body.” In fact, properly practiced yoga can improve every part of your performance, from endurance to power to speed, while also promoting your overall health, well-being and mental clarity.
Yoga, much like the martial arts, is part of an ancient and deep tradition. In their quest for greater self-knowledge, the yogis realized our physical state deeply influences both our mood and mental capacity. They found that by practicing the physical postures of yoga, they could become more peaceful, and in turn, achieve greater focus.
     They also found by returning the body to its natural state that they could dramatically improve physical capacity. This is part of why many of today’s top athletes consider it a vital addition to their training.
Just a few years ago, fitness enthusiasts had few options if they wanted to try out a yoga class. Today, yoga is a mainstay on the program schedules of most health clubs and personal training studios. Unlike many other methods of training, the practice of yoga unfolds over time to reveal many layers of physical benefits and personal revelations.
Now, more people are discovering the many ways that yoga can be used to improve their overall well-being.

By Dave Griffiths, Publisher

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