Yoga benefits and resources to learn more.
We all know that yoga is more than a physical practice--the mental and emotional boons are beyond refute and backed by science.
Healthline reported 13 benefits of yoga, all supported by research: yoga can decrease stress, anxiety and inflammation; improve heart health, sleep quality, flexibility, balance, strength, breathing and quality of life; fight depression, chronic pain, and migraines; and promote healthy eating habits.
While I was introduced to yoga at 16, my yoga practice didn’t become consistent until my 20s when hip pain prevented me from running. Sports were an integral part of my childhood and adolescence, and when I entered college, I simply swapped athletics for the gym. I’ve always been “big boned” with a tendency to gain weight easily, so regular exercise became a part of my daily life out of necessity, but honestly, I have always enjoyed moving my body in challenging ways.
Due to some congenital hip issues, which were compounded by years of athletics and other high-impact activities, I found myself with chronic hip pain at only 27. In an attempt to treat the pain and avoid surgery, I began practicing yoga regularly, and after a few months, I was mostly pain-free.
I’ve had relapses over the years--largely due to my own refusal to admit I can’t run and jump like a teenager--but yoga has helped heal my body.
As for the spiritual part of yoga, in complete honesty, I was hesitant to dig deeper into yoga (or myself) for years. The spiritual side of yoga weirded me out, but the emotional benefits became so clear over time that I allowed myself to open my mind. Exercise in general has always helped keep depression at bay, but with yoga, I also experienced mental clarity, a release from stress, and the ability to let go of my obsessive worrying and overthinking.
The best way to learn about the practice of yoga in a non-threatening environment is to take a yoga class with an experienced yoga teacher, and Toledo Public Library’s Main Library is hosting 6 free gentle yoga classes at 5:30PM on Mondays for the next several weeks.
If you’d like to learn more as you begin your yoga journey, Toledo Library has excellent resources for gaining information on yoga asana (poses) and the corporeal benefits:
Yoga: Path to Holistic Health by BKS Iyengar
Path to Holistic Health begins by briefly covering the fascinating biography of Iyengar, one of the “fathers of modern yoga.” The majority of the book then outlines fundamental yoga poses with descriptions and photos and includes modifications for everything. It even includes yoga sequences for specific health ailments that you can practice on your own at home.
Yoga: Mastering the Basics by Sandra Anderson
Mastering the Basics is the beginner’s guide to becoming familiar with the variety of postures in Hatha yoga. Additionally, the book covers breath meditation and includes daily practice ideas.
Restorative Yoga for Life: A Relaxing Way to De-Stress, Re-energize, and Find Balance by Gail Boorstein Grossman
If you’re looking for very gentle yoga to help relieve physical ailments and manage stress--and not as a form of exercise -- this is the book for you. Restorative yoga uses plenty of props and you hold the poses for minutes, allowing the joints to relax and stress to melt away. Yogaja Yoga offers both Restorative Yoga and Yin Yoga.
If you are ready to dive deeper into the mental and emotional benefits of yoga to support your physical practice, here are some resources available at our local Toledo Library:
Yoga Mind and Body by Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center
Yoga Mind and Body covers the basics, describing the main postures and breathing techniques in detail with accompanying photos, while also covering the philosophy of yoga and yogic fasting practices.
Kundalini Yoga: A Journey Through the Chakras DVD
Learn what chakras are and how to balance them with physical movement with this Kundalini Yoga DVD.
Our Toledo Libraries possess a plethora of resources to guide us along our yoga journeys, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned yogi: free yoga classes, books, and DVDS.
You don’t need to dive deep right away. You can start, as I did, with practicing yoga as a form of exercise to reap the physical benefits. If you choose to learn about the traditions and roots of yoga, that’s your choice. The yoga teacher is simply the guide; YOU are in charge.
If you’ve found the practice to help you physically and/or mentally, we’d love to hear more in the comments.