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Get fit with yoga in the new year

If you are one of those people who make New Year's resolutions, I bet exercising and getting fit are probably on your list. In our modern society, where a sedentary lifestyle dominates our daily living and so many people are obese and out of shape, this really should be on the top of everyone's list.

Even though I am still in good shape, I know I should exercise more to stay fit and healthy. But sometimes due to lack of time, motivation or incentives, I don't exercise as much as I should. I guess I need someone or something to give me a push.

Well, that someone or something appeared in an e-mail I got shortly before the New Year. It was from a friend I met at Woodbury United Methodist Church to inform me about the new yoga class that would start at the church on the first Sunday afternoon of the year.

I couldn't say no to such an opportunity, to do yoga with an instructor and a few other people I already know, in a nice and quiet room of the church and enjoy soothing music while tending to my mind, body and spirit. And best of all, it's free. It can't get better than this. If this is not enough of motivation and incentives, I don't know what could be.

I was introduced to yoga last year, partly through the yoga class at Woodbury United Methodist Church and partly through a yoga class in my workplace. I enjoyed both classes because it helped me to strengthen my body, relax my mind and reduce stress. I experienced a deep feeling of relaxation during the yoga class that sometimes I almost fell asleep.

Yoga is a practice of combining simple movements, stretches and breathing techniques to relax the body and calm the mind. The philosophy of yoga teaches that, in order to find relaxation and peace, that the mind and body must become connected, or aware of each other. And specific physical postures and breathing techniques can help foster this connection.

Yoga philosophy teaches that the breath is the bridge between the mind and the body. The slowed breathing techniques help you clear your lungs and mind. The body and the min reflect each other. As one calms, the other relaxes and vice versa.

By the very nature of its practice, yoga can help you become more calm, not just while practicing it, but throughout your daily activities.

Many people experience a peacefulness that transfers from the classroom to their everyday lives. They find that they are able to think more clearly and react more calmly while under stress.

In addition to the mental benefits of relaxation and stress reduction, doing yoga regularly can bring about the following specific health benefits.

Yoga strengthens the body and increases flexibility. In some individuals, it has shown to relieve chronic pain. Yoga can also help people who are struggling with weight problem and some other health issues. A consistent combination of yoga practice and a healthier diet can restore your health and bring balance to your life.

One interesting thing I have noticed is people who practice yoga are very health conscious and peaceful. They are on healthier diet than the average Joe. It's not uncommon that some become vegetarians after practicing yoga.

Another interesting phenomenon I noticed is some love yoga so much that they become yoga instructors in order to teach others the healthy way of living.

Yoga is not a religion, although some people find they are able to combine religious practices such as prayer with yoga if they desire.

Anyone, young and old, healthy or not so healthy, can practice and benefit from yoga.

How about you?

Are you stressed out in life and want to bring some peacefulness back into your life? Do you have back pain that you want to get rid of? Do you want to loss some weight? Even if you are a very healthy person, you might still want to feel better and calmer.

Then why not give yoga a try? Take a yoga class in the New Year and see what will happen.

Nowadays, yoga is so popular that probably all fitness centers offer yoga classes. There is also a yoga studio in Woodbury that just offers yoga classes.

I am excited to join the new yoga class at Woodbury United Methodist Church.