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Our society has a distorted viewpoint of exactly what “fitness” consists of when attached to the word “physical”.  Close your eyes for a moment and imagine what physical fitness means to you.  Does your minds eye project an image of an oiled body on stage at a contest?  Maybe your imagination brings forth a slim, lithe young woman with a grim determination on her face as she crosses the finish line of a marathon.  Or is it possible that you catch a glimpse of an extremely muscled man as he flips tractor tires end-over-end during a Strongest Man contest.  Collectively these images portray individuals who have achieved fitness of their bodies through continued training.

Hours and hours of curls give that oiled contestant the biceps and triceps that absolutely glow as he tightens up in his program.  Our marathon runner has developed the lung and leg power to complete that marathon, through miles and miles of training runs. As far as those tractor tires being thrown end for end…total commitment by the contestant is what gives him that power.  The theme common to their successes?  Workouts!  Workouts that usually bring to mind the gym, a fitness center or a running track.  All physical, strenous activity, that athletes engage themselves in to become the best they can be.

So how does Yoga fit into this scheme of fitness? Cross-legged Yoga practicioner Throw out that image of Yoga as someone sitting crossed-legged on the ground, hands in prayer position, while they endlessly hum a mantra. This view of Yoga is fine for those who just want to bury themselves in their mind waiting for divine knowledge.  The study and practice of Yoga consists of so much more than that, let’s explore a few.

  • Balance. Just how will that hunk of muscle throw tractor tires around if he does not have an ability to maintain balance.  Balance is critical throughout our lives, and many Yoga positions require balance throughout.  And practice makes perfect.  Perform Yoga positions that concentrate on balance and your physical movements become easier and more confortable.  Brute strength is absolutely worthless without personal balance to use it!
  • Flexibility. Hand in hand with balance is flexibility.  Brute strength through weight training is great!  However, as the muscles grow, frequently they grow without much flexibility.  If you cannot bend when you need to then strains, pulls or tears will soon be in your future.  Yoga concentrates on stretching in many of the positions, vastly increasing flexibility in your muscle mass.
  • Management of pain/injuries. Very few sports allow participation without a occasional “ouch”.  Whether you suffer simply from overworked muscles and need some rest, or really injure yourself you need to accept and work through the resulting pain.  Many techniques used in Yoga concentrate on relaxation.  Use of Yoga will allow those sore muscles to release tension, to relax.  The pain is easily lessened, and many times disappears altogether.
  • Heightened levels of energy. Strenuous workouts in the fitness center, as well as long distances runs, frequently leave muscles full of tension.  Yoga exercises teach you to avoid this tension, usually increasing the oxygen levels in the blood.  Learning Yoga not only will teach you how to alleviate this tension, but will fill you with a new sense of energy at the same time.

Physical strength is mostly achieved by overworking the muscles, increasing the ability to perform whatever tasks you have set for yourself.  Couple this strength training with compatible Yoga exercises and amaze yourself at the overall aspect of improvement.

glchandler is an early senior (62) who is attempting to live his words and get on with life. Although disabled approximately eight years I have decided I do wish to live longer and better. Hope to see you around the gym!
Body and Spirit Healing

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Category : Yoga