Well, Ranaesheart suggested the other day that I do a post about yoga, since I suggest it whenever someone new comes into the community, so I'm going to give it a shot.
I must confess, I am definitely a novice with yoga myself, but I learn more as I go along. I know there are several different kinds of yoga, ranging from what I do, which is slow and deliberate to another type that is very physical. Each kind of yoga has its own name and no, I don't know them all. I have read that some people try them all and never do find one they like and some people, like me, find one they like and stick with it. Some people prefer to get into a class because they like the "group" aspect. Personally, I prefer to do it in the privacy of my home. That way I can concentrate on what I'm doing, rather than worrying whether or not I'm keeping up with others in the class or looking silly. If I have trouble with a pose, I can back up the dvd and try it again. I have only myself to keep up with and only my last pose to better.
Because there are so many different types of yoga and I'm not an expert, I can only discuss what yoga does for me - everyone else would have to draw their own conclusion. I've done web searches for yoga and if you do that, you will come up tons of sites that give a lot of info, even where to find classes, etc.
I first started yoga about a year or so ago. I was in a local dept store, looking for exercise videos and I came across a "yoga for beginners". Since I'd never done it before, I knew better than to try anything that didn't say "beginner". Anyway, I thought about it for a bit and decided that I'd try it just for fun. When I got home with the dvd and put it in to play, I almost panicked.
My first thought was "oh my goodness, I will never be able to stretch and bend like she does". My husband even made the comment "you're going to throw something out of joint if you try that"!! Well, his rude remark was all it took to get me going. I might be 59 yrs old, but I'm no slouch when it comes to physical activity and if I can push a lawn mower and dig a trench for a water line, I can do yoga!! Throw something out, indeed!! LOL So I proceeded to make him leave the room (just in case he was right), then I got on with it. I now have 2 dvd's of yoga for beginners & yes, I'm still a beginner but I get better every time I do it.
There is some equipment that is useful, but not essential. I started out with nothing but the living room carpet, dvd player, and TV. At the time we had only one TV, so whenever I was exercising my husband had to find something else to do or I had to do it when he wasn't home. I finally bought another TV and DVD player, then moved my exercising to the spare bedroom with a wood laminate floor, so my husband could watch TV and I didn't have to wait for him to go somewhere in order to exercise. That's when I broke down and purchased a yoga mat, and later added a set of yoga blocks.
Yoga focuses on the entire body, including breathing, balance, your mind, etc, so you have to concentrate. I can't be thinking about what happened at work today or what's going to happen tomorrow, who I'm angry with or who's angry with me, what I'm fixing for dinner, who's walking the dogs or anything else. I think that's one thing I like about it.
I used to have a bad habit of holding my breath whenever I was doing exercises (one entire sit up or 3 jumping jacks with no breath, etc ugh!! no wonder I got tired); yoga teaches you to breathe as you are doing the poses. There are specific breathing exercises to do, which once learned can be done anywhere and are very relaxing. Yoga also focuses on balance. The first time I saw the "trainer" stand on one foot, with her hands high in the air - I just knew I'd fall flat on my face - instead I backed up against a wall and used it for help with balance. The first few times I tried it, I couldn't hold the pose nearly as long as I should have, but I DID IT and I kept trying and pretty soon, I could hold the pose right along with the trainer, without holding on to anything or almost falling down - what a feeling of accomplishment that was. Gradually, I realized that something as simple as walking was easier because I was holding myself up straighter and was more balanced, so not putting more pressure on one side or the other. Since my job requires a lot of walking, being more balanced helped keep from getting so tired and sore.
I still can't bend myself in half like the trainer does, but I can come close; besides I'm fat and I haven't practiced it for years like she has. If I keep trying, I will get the hang of it.
Yoga stretches all the muscles in your body and once you learn the poses and get to the point where you can move from one pose to the next without stopping, you get a good workout. Yoga is low impact, so anyone who has a problem with a lot of other types of exercise should be able to do it. You can start out standing against a wall or holding onto the back of a sturdy chair (or even another person if available) to keep from falling. Just because you don't look like the trainer don't get discouraged. The main thing is to KEEP TRYING. You will find that each time you do a pose you will get better at it, you will be able to stretch higher, bend deeper, breath more evenly.
I have to admit that I have not lost tons of weight, but then I'm fighting with relatively newly diagnosed thyroid problems, with hormone levels not stabilized yet so that's affecting my metabolism, energy and everything else. However, when I do the yoga faithfully, I have lost some inches and can feel the difference in the way my muscles feel more defined, more relaxed and flexible. Plus my breathing is deeper and more relaxed, my balance is better and I feel so much more confident because I'm carrying my body better.
I've read and responded to posts from people who say they are morbidly obese and can't exercise. For those people, my suggestion is to learn the breathing exercises, sit very straight in a sturdy chair and simply do alternate arm and leg raises. As the muscles get used to being used, weights or resistance bands can be added. Weights can be something as simple as a can of veggies or a bottle of water. A resistance band can be a towel. In addition, as we all know, walking is very beneficial, even if it's only a few laps around the dining room or the back yard to start with. The thing is to move, breathe right and concentrate on your balance, gradually adding more moves as the muscles stretch and get stronger. You'd be surprised at how much good it does to just make simple deliberate moves, but be sure to never "lock" your joints (knees, elbows, etc). Be sure to start out very slowly and don't make it hurt. The old saying "no pain, no gain" is not necessarily true; generally if it hurts when you are exercising you are doing too much; however, some stiffness after the first few workouts is normal. These moves even work for those with desk jobs.
I know there are several who have the Wii Fit now, as do I. I generally start my Wii Fit work out with yoga for the warm up because it's slow and deliberate and gets the muscles stretched and ready to go, then work on the strength training and aerobics, mixing in some balance games, then end the workout with yoga to cool down and relax. My Wii Fit age ranges from 36-42 yrs. For those of you that don't have Wii Fit, that means that my 59 yr old body works like a 36-42 yr old body.
Most people I meet for the first time, think I'm much younger than I am. That's a confidence booster right there and I think I can safely give yoga a lot of credit because of the way I've learned to carry myself.
I hope some of you will seriously give it a try. Enjoy.