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 Yoga is for those with an open mind

Sports Scene

(Sept. 25, 2008) — As children begin new routines in September, so do adults.

We carefully begin to plan our workouts: treadmill, bicycle, elliptical and even weight training. But there is one ingredient that is often overlooked, and it is the most important component to an exercise plan.

How many times do we consider stretching? Do you stretch before and after your exercise plan?

Stretching may be the most important and powerful component of your plan. If we omit stretching, we may become prone to injury and add stress to our body.

During the execution of an exercise plan, our muscles are flexing and contracting. We must treat these muscles with care and stretch them after our routine.

We should schedule time during the week for our poorly stretched muscles and consider a yoga class. Both men and women benefit from yoga classes.

Many readers have stated that they shy away from the concept of yoga, because they are not flexible. But if you don’t stretch, you will not be flexible.

Other readers stated that they do not have the time. But if we don’t schedule time to properly maintain our bodies, we may need to dedicate time to medical attention.

Aside from the benefits of stretching, yoga offers a balance to our bodies. We have the opportunity to reconnect with ourselves. We are not running from machine to machine; we are taking a moment to exercise our mind and body.

If executed properly, yoga offers the opportunity to improve one’s health and body. It will allow you to take your exercise plan to the next level. It will allow you to conquer your professional goals by remaining focused.

I remember my first introduction to yoga. I decided to keep an open mind and allow myself to fully experience the moment. I am a runner and enjoy activities that require much physical exertion. I could not understand how yoga would offer those same feelings.

After my first class, I realized why so many people include yoga as a part of their weekly exercise plan. I was exhausted.

I awoke muscles in my body that I did not realize were dormant. I was calm, my head was no longer as heavy as a gallon of water.

Yoga has been practiced for more than 4,000 years. It helps one to focus on the task at hand, at the very moment of execution. It requires that we breathe and move in unison.

Yoga is a way of life for many people, but is also a way to add an important component to any exercise plan.

Yoga may be interpreted as a series of stretches that are held for seconds at a time. The flow of one stretch to the next promotes better posture and improves circulation throughout our bodies.

The benefits of yoga and stretching are remarkably similar:

• Circulation is improved: the increase of blood flow to our muscles is the key to recovery after vigorous activities.

• Strength is improved: you have better range of motion and flexibility, allowing for bending, lifting or quick sprints to the train or bus.

• Relieves stress: tense muscles become relaxed; we learn to focus and remain calm under pressure.

• Prevents injury: whether raking leaves or lifting weights, we must prepare our joints and muscles from becoming prone to injury because they are tight; we must increase the flexibility of our spine and body.

Various medical studies have shown that the practice of yoga may help prevent heart attacks because of its calming effect on the body. The practice of yoga lowers stress and works the muscles of the body, allowing blood to flow freely. Studies have also found yoga to decrease lower-back pain, mainly because the stretching and strengthening of our muscles and the added increase of our range of motion.

Do you have pain that lingers? Seek medical assistance if you have chronic pain as a result of an injury. Receive approval from your physician to engage in an exercise plan.

Whatever your goals are this fall season, remember to properly balance your plan. Make time for yourself and your healthy lifestyle goals. Take 30 minutes minimum each day to focus on creating a healthier, happier you.

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