Rocket's Gorgeous in the City

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Yoga for fun and health

The origins of yoga are set in mythology. It is said that there was a beautiful princess who didn't want her beauty to fade. So she summoned the wisest men to create a way for her to remain beautiful and they created yoga.

Yoga help you be more than beautiful - because it cleanses and clarifies the body, it is an important factor in your health and vitality. Yoga can give you the energy you need to get through your day, and the more demanding stretches and balances can give your heart a great deal of stimulation.

Of course yoga isn't just a 15 minute exercise. You'll need to work at it every day. The good news is that it's not very long before you can't live without it. I've tried so many forms of exercise that were just no fun! Running, swimming, cycling... they each have their appeal, but would you say you looked forward to them? I don't... Dancing and inline skating have their appeal, but the exercise is not the attraction - I just happen to love moving to music and the freedom of life on four wheels.

With yoga, from the moment you start your first stretch, you can feel it doing you good. As an example, try a head roll. Sit or stand perfectly straight and breathe deeply. You'll probably feel better after just a few of those. Then, when you're ready, let your head slowly fall forward until your back muscles are stretching out. Continue to breathe deeply. Slowly inhale as you roll to one side. Continue inhaling as you let it fall slowly backwards. Then, breathing in, lift it back up to the opposite shoulder and let it roll forwards. Stretching feels amazing! It stimulates and removes toxins from your muscles and gives you energy. In a sense, it's like a massage.

I believe the best way to stay gorgeous is to stay healthy. So I avoid animal products and drugs. I exercise gently every day, using a combination of yoga and other activities such as sit-ups and squats... although yoga has options for this sort of exercise also.

To get involved in yoga, you can practice at home with a book or video - Vimla Lilvani gives excellent descriptions of the correct way to practice the exercises. Or you can join a class at your local gym. Many gyms let you join their classes without needing to purchase time on the machines, or you may choose to join a gym that gives you access to everything for a single fee.

Alternatives to yoga include Pilates - which is all about looking good and hybrid programmes (my old gym ran "Yogalates"), and some other more athletic programmes that include some good stretching components in the hour.

Enjoy your yoga! And remember to take it slowly, because your body is doing something new and although it's quite rewarding, you don't want to give your system a shock.

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