"Yoga is the perfect non-impact way to strengthen the muscles and stretch the body," Kellie Lynch, certified yoga teacher and owner of Balance Studio in Cohasset, Massachusetts, said. "In addition, yoga helps keep the joints healthy by strengthening the muscles that surround them."
Angela Leigh, group fitness manager, Equinox Newport Beach, agrees that yoga is a safe strengthening activity for women of all shapes and sizes. "Yoga is safe because the poses gravitate to the midline, so we're using the support of our core, and a lot of the physical exercises we do lengthen and lean our muscular structure."
Even though yoga is a very individualized activity, every yogi becomes part of an instant community. "Finding the right yoga practice and studio is like joining a community full of support and camaraderie," Lynch said. "Yoga is a non-competitive, non-judgmental activity that allows each individual to work and grow to their own level."
Admit it, you do. "Remember that if you don't take care of yourself, it's almost impossible to nurture and support those around you who count on you daily," Lynch said.
Lynch also points out the relaxing nature of the yoga experience. "Yoga, unlike a trip to the gym or a game of tennis, allows women much-needed downtime on their mat. It not only gives them the physical release that most exercise does, but it gives them the mental and spiritual connection that's often missing in their daily lives."
"Yoga is a great way for women to stay in shape without the jarring effects of running, weight lifting, stepping or kick boxing," Lynch said. "As women begin to age, they need to re-think the physical exercises that they've done in the past. High-impact options often do more damage than benefit the body."
Yoga is effective in training your body, improving your flexibility, toning your body and even training your mind. "Yoga creates a union of the mind and body and creates a 'body-awareness' that's uncommon in most forms of traditional exercise," Lynch said. In addition, Lynch says that yoga has the power to calm and center the mind through breath and focused concentration.
Did you know that yoga can also improve your body's intelligence? According to Leigh, yoga provides a sense of empowerment. "As women, we're already intuitive by nature, and the physical practice of yoga will better connect us to our body and its language."
Ready to give yoga a try? Good for you! Leigh explains the different forms of yoga:
"There are many different types of yoga out there," she said. "There are more physical practices, such as Ashtanga, Iyengar and Vinyasa Flow, and there are more meditative and spiritual practices like Kundalini. There are also slower, more specialized classes like Pre-Natal Yoga and Restorative Yoga.
For beginning yogis, Leigh recommends trying a Hatha Blend of yoga. Some studios and fitness facilities will indicate a level on their classes. Choose one with a lower level to help you learn the basics. "Start with learning the basic poses and vernacular for the asanas (as we call them), and once you start to become more familiar with the flow, your body will begin to adjust." Leigh said.
To learn more about yoga, check out this article about why yoga is beneficial to the mind and body. If your inner yogi is ready to burst, click here to learn how to save money on yoga classes. Plus, learn what laughter yoga is all about.