Yoga used to be seen as an exotic,”Eastern” type of religious practice which needs austere discipline in the tradition of hard-to-achieve postures. When yoga was introduced to American audiences, it had been taken up by the Ram Dass audience but viewed somewhat askance from the ordinary person. That’s all changed.
Yoga is regarded as one of several mainstream forms of relaxation and exercise, and most people would agree that yoga gives an experience of improved well-being and physical relaxation, while more enthusiastic supporters of yoga assert it can provide deep, long-lasting relief from chronic disease, pain, premature aging, and will normally elevate the level of chi or life-force. Anyone who has taken a few yoga classes will attest that even the gentlest series of yoga postures, if gone through under the guidance of an experienced instructor in a pleasant surroundings, can make you feel better at the end of a yoga session in the event you did in the start.
What causes this feeling, which could actually border on euphoria? Recent science points to many causes of this “feel-good” effect. First, for the average sedentary individual, just putting one’s body through a series of gentle stretches can release endorphins and commence a “back-in-one’s-body” awareness that’s a nice change from the more comfortable”in our minds” state. This is a simple point but an important one. Many Americans experience themselves primarily as thinking beings, and we identify ourselves with our thoughts (likes, dislikes, etc). Our miraculous bodies hum along quietly underneath and alongside our believing consciousnesses.
In actuality, a lot of people don’t even recognize they have bodies till they fall sick or bark their shins on a coffee table. What yoga does for the normal desk-bound or “in their mind” person is that it gives them a feeling of movement for movement’s sake that’s entirely pleasurable (provided that they do not push themselves too hard). Some folks refer to the experience as “making friends with the body” Slogans aside, the final result is that in the conclusion of a yoga session, you feels better-more relaxed, emotionally clearer, calmer, more focused, and less hurried and worried. In actuality, most people have little interest in the modern science of the early tradition of the religious practice of yoga.
Instead, they’ve discovered that when they appear for yoga class (or trace videos or tapes in their home) at least once each week, when they undergo a series of yoga poses and allow themselves breathe a little deeper for a moment, they simply feel better-physically and emotionally. But there’s just 1 way to learn for yourself, and that is to really try it.
My advice would be to Google “gentle yoga” or “beginner’s yoga” and the name of your city of city, find a studio that looks attractive, and just show up for a course. If you keep an open mind and come ready to experience something new, you may join the countless other people who have come to see their yoga practice as an important part of a healthy, joyful, vibrant life.