Yoga is

It’s always late at night, when there’s nothing on TV but infomercials about how you really can lose weight while relaxing, that I find myself wanting to buy into the fantasy of easy weight loss.

It’s always the late night ads that persuade me to call in – my credit card number ready – and buy home exercise junk I may never use. In the end, my purchase turns out to be a failed experiment that ends up in my basement, next to my high school athletic gear.

If you’re looking for a real way to work out that is actually a relaxing and beneficial activity, then I suggest you check out yoga.

I visited a yoga class held here at Portland State. When I walked in, I realized about 70 percent of the class consisted of senior-aged men and women, at which point an overwhelming feeling of relief and encouragement came over me. I started thinking, “Hey, I’m going to look pretty good just pulling off a few jumping jacks compared to the rest of this crowd.”

I realized why there was such a large number of seniors when the yoga instructor said, “If you feel pain, then its not yoga.”

Our culture teaches Americans the concept of “No pain, no gain,” yet yoga teaches the opposite.

Yoga is the art of bringing health and vitality to the body, and it is often called a “fountain of youth.” There are many concrete benefits in practicing yoga.

As stated by Joel Kramer in his written outline of yoga, “Yoga is a powerful therapeutic tool for correcting physical and psychological problems; it retards aging and keeps you opened sexually. It gives strength and flexibility for other physical activities; it can enhance your looks, posture, skin and muscle tone, and vitality. It can give your life a sense of well-being.”

About 60 percent of people who come to yoga come because of pain.

“I came into yoga some 20 years ago out of pain,” said 7-year PSU instructor Paul Tucker. “I had thrown off a few vertebrae in my lower back and the Doctors told me that I had something wrong, but they didn’t know what. All he could offer was medication.”

Tucker wanted to find a real solution instead of just living on drugs to relieve the pain. After going to a chiropractor Tucker was encouraged to relieve the pain by strengthening the muscles around the inflation.

After looking into yoga, Tucker realized he had found the solution. For over 20 years now, Paul Tucker’s back has required little attention. Whenever he does feel pain or discomfort he knows exactly what yoga position to practice in order to strengthen the muscles and relive the pain quickly.

Lack of energy is another reason for coming to yoga. Like most college students, I make a daily habit of stopping by Starbucks at least once a day to replenish my already low amounts of energy. Practicing yoga properly increases energy as apposed to running off of caffeine or sugar.

Even if you can only practice for one hour a week, you will experience the calming benefit of yoga. The more you do, obviously, the more benefits you will attain. However, starting with 2 to 3 yoga filled hours a week is the recommended duration of time.

After just one hour of yoga, I left the class feeling a few inches taller, energized, and completely relaxed. The next morning when I woke up with an entire back of sore muscles, I realized that maybe the pain doesn’t come in class, but instead, the next day. I have a new respect for those senior aged members of yoga class.