ULTIMATE STRETCH

Extension brings space, space brings freedom, freedom brings precision. Precision is truth and truth is God. It may sound like an abstract idea, but students of yoga can vouch for its validity. Yoga is a precise form of the ancient wisdom that develops the body while focusing the mind and spirit. Its about precision, alignment and a lot of discipline. In a yoga class, people are less likely to injure themselves but they learn how to do a pose correctly, while still getting to know their bodies in the process.

Indeed, for practitioners of meditation familiar only with the sitting meditation or the aerobic dynamism of zumba, pilates and gym, a yoga classcan be a unique experience. The air- conditioned yoga hall has no mirrors and there’s no trance or music to accompany you. Props like belts, bricks and bolsters are available to help ease students into a pose. There is no meditation, but poses are held for sometime= accompanied only by the soft sound of breathing or the teacher’s encouragement. Unlike your average physical activity, an asana demands concentration and awareness of your muscles and bones working, as the teacher encourages you to lengthen your spine, press your heels or turn in your shoulder blades to open your chest.

While yoga greatly benefits the injured, an intense class is no walk in the park; try keeping your knees bent in Utkatasana (Chair pose) for about half a minute, for example, and you will feel your heart racing, and knees with thigh muscles seem on fire. The strength and endurance needed to hold a pose are considerable, and the muscle development unlike what one would expect from repetitive weight lifting. You wont bulk up because instead of moving away from bones, muscles lengthen and support your bones.

If yoga sounds very physical, it is- in the beginning. One must master the body first before even touching the breath, the mind and the spirit. Still, consistent practice brings a state of meditation in motion that allows one to stay fully aware in the present moment, leaving all other distractions and obstacles behind.

More than just helping one achieve a youthful and flexible body, no matter what your shape, yoga inevitably changes one from the inside. Because the mind is fully present, yet passive in an extraordinary way, yoga has been proven to aid with everything from back problems and painful menstruations to mood swings and lack of courage. Students with high blood pressure, sciatica, and even migraines and depression have benefited from regular attending yoga classes.

Yoga has done a lot for my body and my mind. It has taught me to become comfortable in my own skin and be always true to myself. You can come to a yoga class to have a better body. But if you let it, yoga can transform you. And those whose lives have been changed by yoga will attest, that’s not far from ultimate stretch.