4 Things Your Yoga Should Be Doing for You
Are you getting everything you should from your yoga practice? Or is your current routine getting stale? Maybe you keep starting and stopping because it just doesn’t seem to produce the results you need. How can you get better yoga for a better you?
Meet Anamaria. She grew up as a very intense competitive swimmer – with very early morning practices before school and running and weight training mixed into her days, too. She was recruited by a number of NCAA Div 1 schools, and chose Penn State. But all the training took a heavy toll. By her twenties, she was already struggling with serious, repetitive use injuries, and so her coach recommended yoga.
It was an instant love affair.
She began with Iyengar Yoga. Not only did the detailed alignment of Iyengar Yoga appeal to her performance-focused mind, but she found the philosophical teachings of yoga appealed to her as well. Although her coach had been unaware of her years spent struggling with disordered eating and drug abuse, the yogic practice of Ahimsa, non-violence, toward herself became just as important to her as healing her injuries through yoga poses. Her continued practice with different teachers brought her to Ashtanga Yoga – with an athletic nature to practicing yoga that suited the triathlete perfectly.
Now, Anamaria hits the mat daily and works continuously to interweave all eight limbs of yoga into her lifestyle. She has been teaching yoga since completing her first teacher training in 2014. Most recently, Anamaria also became a certified personal trainer with that National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), to give her another angle to better teach, train and coach others along their health journey.
Teaching and practicing yoga is so much more than fancy shapes on a rubber mat. It’s about taking care of the whole self. Helping people on their journey to better physical and emotional health has become an overwhelming obsession for Anamaria. For her, yoga is all about health and happiness – for body, mind and soul.
How about you? Got yoga? Does it build up your body-mind-soul? Here are four things your yoga should be doing for you.
#1. Healthy Body
Yoga should improve your muscles’ flexibility, strength and tone. These are actually results you will feel much more than see.
Chronic tension and pain can be alleviated when we improve the flexibility, strength and tone of all the muscles in the body so that no one muscle group is overworking while another is being underutilized. Be sure your time on the mat includes both strengthening and stretching – and isometrically strengthening while stretching – for a body that feels better and learns healthier movement patterns to carry you off the mat better than before.
Anamaria’s advice: “Know that insane poses are not required to still let it be a worthwhile pursuit.” She is happy to customize classes on the fly depending on who shows up. Variety and newness are hallmarks of her class. And while she is sure to offer challenging poses, the end goal is always for everyone in class to feel successful wherever they are at in their yoga journey.
#2. Healthy Breath
Yoga should improve your physiological health (from lung function, to heart rate, to digestion). While the effects of yoga on the respiratory, cardiovascular, lymphatic, nervous, and digestive systems are less obvious – because it’s even more about what you feel than what you see – these effects can be truly profound.
While your experience in yoga classes like Anamaria’s are likely to feel physically challenging and often muscle strengthening/stretching focused, there is always something profound going on beneath the surface, too. “Just get on the mat,” Anamaria advises. Let the yoga – and the breath work in particular – do the work.
#3. Healthy Mind
Yoga should help manage stress. In fact, the underlying intention of any yoga practice – whether you focus on poses, breathing, or meditation – should have an overall settling effect for that constant chitter chatter swirling around the mind.
Count on Anamaria to include the softer side of yoga into each of her classes, too. There are, after all, seven other limbs to yoga in addition to asana (yoga poses). You can read about them all here – but spoiler alert, the ultimate goal of them all is a calm, quieted mind that is comfortably settled into the present moment.
#4. Healthy Heart & Soul
Yoga should nourish all of you – inside and out. This NIH study analysis found that “yoga [practitioners] were much more likely… to report specific wellness-related outcomes, such as feeling better emotionally. They were also the most likely to report exercising more, eating better… more than 70 percent of yoga users reported a “focus on the whole person—mind, body and spirit” as a reason for practicing yoga.”
Anamaria is quick to remind everyone that she is not the yoga police. Ultimately, she is just happy to be in class to help you on your journey, but the journey is yours to enjoy, dear yogis. We hope you enjoy yoga for all it has to offer the whole of you. She takes a lot of different classes with a variety of teachers so that she has broader breadth of experience to draw from when she teaches. Longevita has teachers like Anamaria precisely because we believe that better yoga results in a better you.