I decided to take my talents to Yoga District this week. While I am far from graceful, I learned to leave my shame behind and completely engage myself in an altered consciousness with this “mind-body” exercise. I’ve recently discovered this hidden gem walking through the streets of DC. Unlike almost anything in the city, it is reasonably priced and even better for students ($10 per class or $77 unlimited monthly pass!)
Research from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) found that yoga has proven to increase flexibility, muscular strength, endurance, and balance. Yoga has become a growing fitness trend and has gradually formed into various styles. Hatha to accomodate you beginners with gentle movements, Bikram (known as “hot yoga”) that engages 26 poses in a 100+ degree room, and Vinyasa that allows you to flow from each movement. My advice? Experiment to find out which suits you best and stick with it!
ACE researchers warn that efforts to boost the cardio benefits of yoga will only result in reduced flexibility and balance benefits. “It’s always a tradeoff… yoga was designed primarily for relaxation. The more aerobic you make yoga, the less improvements you’ll see in those other areas.” I recommend incorporating yoga as an addition to an aerobic exercise routine.
It has proven to be pervasive throughout my other fitness regimens and has given me the opportunity to find a place to keep my blood flowing while freeing my mind of all stresses. I find the fundamental breathing techniques of yoga to be surprisingly difficult so… get practicing!
Directions to proper breathing techniques: Exhale by pulling your belly button inwards to push the diaphragm muscle (below the rib cage) up. Follow by completely emptying the air from your lungs. This process will help transport nitric oxide into your lungs, which dilates arteries to bring more oxygen into your body.
Challenge yourself, future yogis!