Yoga for mind, body, and soul.
I once read that the flexibility of the spine is one of the main keys to maintaining good health. The spinal column holds the spinal cord which contains a bundle of nerves that run from the brain down to the tailbone. These nerves carry incoming and outgoing messages between the brain and the rest of the body. So the spine is more than just a bunch of bones that hold us together.
One of the best ways to keep the spine flexible is through movement. I grew up taking modern dance classes and doing gymnastics but I was always the small, awkward kid and was so intimidated by competition. I never was quite good enough to “get the part” or “make the team”. I was the kid who was always chosen last in gym class. Then I discovered yoga. Yoga, even though you are doing it in a classroom situation, is a solitary endeavor. It’s just you, your breath, and your mat. Of course, your teacher is important and it’s nice to peek around the room once in awhile and see people who are both struggling like I am or bending like I aspire to. But it’s not a competition or a race. It’s just my awareness of fully being in my body, breathing my breath, just being in that moment, becoming stronger and more flexible.
Besides the obvious physical benefits, yoga provides a mental and spiritual side as well. In fact, the asanas (poses) that we do in yoga class are just a small part of the whole philosophy and lifestyle that is yoga. Yoga is a set of disciplines that strengthen the body, quiet the mind and, ultimately, free the spirit. I heard it said recently that yoga is an “into body experience”.
The best thing is that anyone can do yoga. You don’t have to be flexible, strong, tall, and/or thin! You can be short and round like I am! I recently watched a video of people in wheelchairs doing yoga. Over the years I have seen people of all ages, sizes, and shapes in the classes I’ve attended. All you need to have is a desire to gain a little more strength and flexibility. But the most amazing benefit is that you will gain a little more peace and balance in your life.