Yoga. Just stretching and saying OMMMMM loudly while sitting in an incense filled room and listening to your hipster teacher with a man bun right? Wrong.. well kinda. There is incense and maybe an occasional man bun, but yoga is so much more than stretching.
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice that originated in India. It has been around for years but has just recently become more popular with different variations added. There is a yoga for everyone if you look. Many yoga studios offer different levels, so if you are a beginner or are just checking it out you wont be forced to do crazy poses that you are not ready for. For the people that like a real sweaty workout there is hot yoga. For people that like slow movements there in Yin yoga, where poses are held for long intervals instead of performing them in a sequence. Even for those who are not so mobile there is chair yoga, gentle stretching by use of chair to gain flexibility- great for elders. There is a yoga for everyone, so there is no reason to shy away because you think it wont be for you.
Yoga is a workout. Many people believe it is just stretching, but the amount of strength gained is incredible. It focuses on strengthening every part of the body, from the core to your fingers. But it is a you-do you- workout. In yoga you are encouraged to never do anything you are not comfortable with or not ready for. There is no competition and no need to keep up with the pack - take your time enjoying the posses if that is what you are there for.
You do not need to be flexible to do yoga. Many people have the misconceived notion that yoga is only for the flexible, but how did the Yogis get flexible if not for practicing yoga? There is no skill level needed to join and , as mentioned, you can easily find a class suited for you.
The benefits of yoga are wonderful. Along with improved strength and flexibility, yoga offers numerous health benefits: lower blood pressure, weight loss, energy, no insomnia, improved circulation and respiration, and protection from injury.
Mentally, yoga is an amazing stress reliever. The peace felt after a practice is a high you want to chase. It also teaches meditation and control of the mind along and makes you more aware of your body and what needs work.
Some find spiritual strength in yoga. A good class will not push spiritual beliefs but let you find your own meaning in it. The practice of yoga allows you to reflect and connect with whatever you believe in, even if it is just finding strength in your own character.
Yoga is a great practice for all people and for people that want to try something new. So I encourage you to research studios near you and give it a shot, you might find yourself just as much in love with it as I am.