Tuesday, September 28, 2010

September is National Yoga Month!

National Yoga Month is an awareness campaign held during the month of September to educate about the health benefits of yoga  and to inspire a healthy lifestyle. The awareness campaign consists of Yoga Health Festivals, yoga classes, concerts and other special events during September to celebrate National Yoga Month and inspire people to practice yoga and to create a more balanced lifestyle.

Yoga has been researched extensively and is know to have a wide range of health benefits for body, mind, spirit:

    * Lower blood pressure
    * Decreased stress
    * Greater flexibility (not just physically!)
    * Enhanced brain function
    * Lower cholesterol
    * Better skeletal alignment
    * Strengthened bones/joints
    * Improved respiration
    * Weight Loss
    * Enhanced circulation
    * Easier transition through menopause
    * Deeper peace of mind
    * And many more…

Yoga is a scientific system of physical and mental practices that originated in India more than five thousand years ago and has been adopted in the west especially over the last 30 years. It includes various postures (exercises) that involve deep breathing, body movement, meditation and relaxation. Its purpose is to improve physical, emotional and mental health, thereby enhancing the holistic quality of our lives.

Yoga promotes a connection between the mind, body and spirit.  It is a lifestyle that embraces a system of physical science while honoring the quest for mental and emotional stability and balance.

The scientifically proven benefits of yoga are numerous, including an increase in flexibility, reduction of stress, reduction of inflammation and pain associated with arthritis and other chronic conditions, and a decrease in hypertension. Everyone who practices yoga can gain some level of benefit. The only requirements are proper instruction and regular practice.

Based on a survey by Yoga Journal, over 15 Million people from all walks of life are practicing yoga in the US; another 15-25 million have expressed an interest in trying yoga. There is a Yoga style for everyone, including children, teens, business professionals, politicians, celebrities and seniors.

The mission of the Yoga Health Foundation is to educate about the health benefits of yoga and to inspire a healthy lifestyle. Yoga Month participants come from many different countries, backgrounds, beliefs, religions and cultures. We encourage all novices, advanced yoga students, teachers and studios to join the Yoga Month movement.

No!  Yoga is a lifestyle or philosophy on life, but it does not ascribe to a specific set of religious practices. Yoga can be done by anyone of any faith. In fact, yoga or yoga-related lifestyle modalities can be found in many religions or faiths around the world. By lowering stress and facilitating physical, emotional, mental balance, yoga has been known to deepen one's faith.

Yoga Month specifically focuses on the health benefits of yoga and how practicing yoga can improve your physical, emotional and mental health and quality of life.

Here are brief descriptions of some of the most common types of yoga:

    * Ananda: This is a gentle practice that emphasizes the importance of meditation, breathing, and affirmations while flowing through yoga postures.
    * Anusara: When translated, Anusara means “following your heart.”  This style celebrates the heart, positive and balanced energy, and the freedom to change and adapt the practice as needed.
    * Ashtanga: Often referred to as power yoga, Ashtanga provides a heart-pounding, intense, and very challenging workout.  The physical goals of the practice are to increase stamina, strength and flexibility.  Mentally, students appreciate the sense of calm the practice can provide.  Those who adhere to this style of yoga experience deep detoxification due to the profuse sweating that takes place during the session.      
    * Bikram: Bikram is called hot yoga for a reason – the temperature in the room is approximately 105 hot and steamy degrees.  Every session consists of 26 postures and two breathing exercises.
    * Hatha: The most popular style of yoga in the United States, Hatha focuses on both physical and emotional well-being.  With more than 200 postures to choose from, students utilize these asanas to enhance circulation, flexibility, balance, and a supple and vibrant mind.
    * Integral: This style of yoga emphasizes relaxation through controlled breathing and meditation.
    * Iyengar: A form of Hatha, Iyengar focuses on symmetry and alignment to obtain mental and physical balance.
    * Kripalu: Meditation in motion, Kripalu utilizes three stages to achieve reliance on the body’s inherent wisdom.  Eventually, students are able to flow through postures spontaneously without conscious thought.
    * Kundalini: A mix of breathing, chanting and poses, this style awakens natural energy and encourages self healing through the stimulation of the immune and nervous systems.
    * Sivananda: A healthy lifestyle is promoted by embracing 12 sun salutation postures, chanting, meditation, positive thinking, and a vegetarian diet.
    * Tantra: Tapping into the body’s natural energy, students are guided through postures, chanting, and visualizations to achieve pleasure, joy and a sense of completion in their everyday existence.
    * Viniyoga: Gentle flow yoga emphasizes the connection between breath and a series of poses that are easy on the joints and easy to adhere to in private practice as well as therapeutic settings.

You can start yoga at any age.

Some of the benefits of practicing yoga are increased flexibility, stronger muscles and connective tissue, alignment the vertebrae, toned and rejuvenated internal organs. In addition, the epidermal, digestive, lymphatic, cardiovascular, and pulmonary systems are purified of toxins and waste matter; the nervous and endocrine systems are balanced and toned; brain cells are nourished and stimulated. The end results are increased mental clarity, emotional stability, and a greater sense of overall well-being.

Yoga is one of the 10 most used Complementary Medicine methods in US. Because Yoga works on so many different levels, it has great potential as an effective therapy for chronic diseases and conditions that do not respond well to conventional treatment methods. In addition, a regular Yoga routine can help develop greater concentration, balance, and composure.

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