Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Today's Small Change: Increase your flexibility.
Say "Om"
The word yoga means "to join," and it may seem as though everybody's doing it these days. But yoga is thousands of years old — it's an ancient Indian practice that enhances flexibility, builds strength, and tones the body while emphasizing mind-body unity. Yoga instills a sense of calm and relaxation, but it boosts stamina as well. The focus on deep breathing helps distribute more oxygen throughout your body, which both calms and energizes you. In addition, yoga improves your flexibility and range of motion. Your small change for today is to give yoga a try. Even if you've tried it before and weren't crazy about it, don't give up. Classes and instructors vary widely in their approach and in the forms, or poses, they use, and just because you didn't care for one type or teacher doesn't mean that yoga isn't for you.

In fact, there are dozens of types of yoga, some of which are fairly simple, others of which are more demanding. Some of the most popular forms of yoga include:

Hatha.Many forms of yoga fall under the basic category of hatha, which uses the practice of asanas, or postures, and incorporates breath flow. Many hatha classes are aimed at beginners.

Bikram. This yoga, which is not for beginners, includes very demanding physical poses that are practiced in a heated room (usually about 105 degrees Fahrenheit) to allow muscles, ligaments, and joints to stretch further.

Ashtanga. Sometimes called power yoga, ashtanga is a faster-paced, gymnastic-style yoga that emphasizes challenging, energizing postures.

Iyengar. This type of yoga puts more emphasis on form and less on breath control. It's very structured and pays a lot of attention to alignment.

Find out what kinds of classes are offered near your home or office — choose a style that appeals to you, and give yoga a shot.
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