Namaste! Happy Yoga Day USA


By: , SparkPeople Blogger

Namaste! Today is Yoga Day USA--a great time to try out a yoga class.

I started practicing yoga in college, when a friend and I signed up for a weekly 90-minute hatha yoga class at our university rec center. With plenty of stretching, basic poses and a slow pace, this was a great introductory class. Over the next few years I took classes at my gym and did DVDs at home, but I really didn't consider yoga much more than a nice stretching workout that helped tone my muscles a bit.

Almost two years ago, a good friend of mine started training as a yoga teacher. She came to visit and took me to an Ashtanga (sometimes called power) yoga class. I'm naturally flexible but not very strong, so the class was a great combination of comfort and challenges.

By the time we left Savasana (corpse pose) and chanted a closing "Om," I was hooked. I felt so centered, so relaxed, so healthy. I now make time for almost daily yoga practice. Sometimes I take classes, sometimes I do a DVD, but most of the time I practice on my own. On busy days, I just do stretching poses for 10 minutes or so, but usually I find time for 30 or more minutes.

In addition to the fitness benefits (flexibility, balance, coordination and strength), yoga offers relaxation and spiritual benefits for many people.

Today, many studios around the country are hosting free yoga classes and workshops. Find one near you.

If you can't get to a class, check out some of our yoga resources:
A Beginner's Guide to Yoga
Yoga Body Bliss
Relax Your Mind and Body with Yoga

Do you practice yoga? What type of yoga do you prefer? What pose is your favorite? For those of you who practice yoga regularly, which pose is the most challenging for you?

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  • 105
    I was encouraged to try YOGA by a new friend who was almost 80 years old. I was just 49 at the time, I loved it right from the start. After shoulder surgery I went back no problems. Hand and wrist surgery no problems but after back surgery I was away too long to go back to classes. I have never given it up. I found a book for seniors and a book of poses for conditions and I know just what to do when I encounter another condition. I am now 69 years young and I was doing Kripalu Yoga part of the Hatha yoga.
    I have been able to stay very flexible and that helps me to do a lot of exercises that people feel sure I would not do. I went to Tai chi and the other students were surprised I could squat so low and put flat hands on the floor with straight knees. YOGA has been a apart of my life and it always will be Pat in Maine. - 10/23/2012   4:17:29 PM
  • 104
    About 6 years ago, I saw a sign "YOGA", I passed the building every day for 6 months before I got the courage to call and ask about the classes. I bartered my way to a free class for the first time, after that class I was hooked. Sad to say my beloved yoga teacher has moved away, and I have not found an alternate class that suits me. Podcasts & dvd's for now. Maybe when I grow up I'll become a Yoga teacher.... - 5/11/2010   9:38:06 PM
  • LINDA29513
    We've started yoga again here at Leeza's Place in San Antonio. I am not the most flexible person on earth! With bilateral knee replacements, I feel I did pretty darn good (hardest thing to do is getting up/down from the floor)! We're only scheduled for once a week but everyone who attended (12 of us!) agreed we need to keep going! - 4/20/2010   2:49:22 PM
    I love Yoga! It really helps me relax it helps to ease my lower back pain. I'm really into Bikram (Hot) Yoga right now. It's pretty challenging, but I feel great after! - 2/1/2010   2:31:35 AM
  • 101
    Yoga is my favorite form of excercise, meditation, movement, and lifestyle, - 1/26/2010   1:20:40 AM
  • 100
    I have gotten a lot out of yoga over the years. Cool blog. - 10/22/2009   8:56:11 PM
  • 99
    For me, yoga is both a physical need (as it provides the best overall stretch after running) and, more importantly, a spiritual need. The "serene" in my name represents the work I've done to overcome perfectionism, anxiety, depression and unhappiness; all work stemming from my first few tentative yoga practices 5 years ago that have turned into a vibrant habit. I sometimes think yoga saved me. It's a powerful practice.

    On the lighter side - when I started triangle pose, I needed a CHAIR beside me as a block and couldn't stand the feeling of fat squished at my waist. I now have a lovely, strong, straight and true pose. Anything's possible.

    om shanti - 8/13/2009   7:00:53 AM
  • 98
    Had always wanted to learn how to do yoga.....even bought a "dummie"s book to tell you how but could not get the grasp of it.......atlas, I am worse than a dummy - 8/3/2009   7:15:32 AM
    I have bought many yoga DVD's over the year. But my favorite is yoga zone. - 4/23/2009   9:15:57 AM
  • 96
    I do kripula yoga once a week and I just received the biggest loser weight loss yoga.i have tried vigorous yoga a few times which was fum - 4/22/2009   8:50:44 PM
    When i was many many moons younger i went to a Yoga class and i truly enjoyed it...but then Life happened and i never went back...lately so i find myself thinking more and more about trying Yoga for the stretching...and also the relaxation that seems to surround all Yoga Fans...and now reading this Blog makes me determined to find a class...near me!! I will keep you updated on my page :) - 4/10/2009   1:47:35 PM
    When i was many many moons younger i went to a Yoga class and i truly enjoyed it...but then Life happened and i never went back...lately so i find myself thinking more and more about trying Yoga for the stretching...and also the relaxation that seems to surround all Yoga Fans...and now reading this Blog makes me determined to find a class...near me!! I will keep you updated on my page :) - 4/10/2009   1:47:28 PM
    I love yoga. Yoga gave me my life back.

    When I started my first yoga class, I was in my mid-forties, about 80 pounds overweight, had survived a ruptured brain aneurysm, was healing from double spiral fractures in my lower left leg, and was suffering from an undifferentiated autoimmune disease that was attacking my joints and my respiratory system. I was in sad, sad shape.

    It wasn't a piece of cake to practice the asanas, but I stuck with it and I am more than elated that I did. I went from a person who was barely able to move to a person with full range of motion. Not only has yoga helped me physically, it has helped me learn to manage pain and stress and has rejuvenated my mind, body and spirit.

    It takes more than a few classes to see results, but the yoga path is well worth the journey.

    It is hard to select a favorite pose, but I will say that I love the Warrior series, Sun Salutations, and, of course - who doesn't love Savasana (Corpse Pose)? I mean, that is the ultimate in relaxation!

    Leader: Team YogaFest! - 1/28/2009   1:10:06 PM
  • 92
    Yoga always looked beautiful and relaxing to me. Like Ti-chi… It would be thrilling to have that kind of flexibility, balance and control over my movement. But it’s been a very, very long time since I was comfortable doing floor work. Maybe some day when my weight is down I will be able to tolerate it but right now it is far too painful. It’s just too much weight on just a few pressure points and a lot of back and especially knee pain.

    I wish I had started something like Yoga when I was younger… but if wishes were horses as they say…

    Still… I’ll be trying to find exercises that will maintain and improve my flexibility where I can. I see how restricted my Grandmother is in her movement at 84. That didn’t have to be the case. She has a lot of arthritis, but a lot of it is due to the fact that she didn’t exercise or learn how to preserve her mobility as she aged too. If I manage to lose this weight and have the luck of living that long, I hope I will be at least as flexible as I am now, preferably more so.
    - 1/28/2009   12:57:22 AM
  • 91
    My husband and I do a yoga class at the YMCA together on our day off. It is our "date" every week. I sometimes do sun salutations in the morning, or before bed to stretch and unwind, but I rarely do yoga for an hour except during the class.

    I love the challenge of triangle and pigeon poses. I find forward bends and child's pose very soothing. I feel that I am more flexible now than I was when I was younger. I love that I can stand and place the palms of my hands on the floor.

    We are on our third yoga teacher at the Y. Our current teacher seems to know less about yoga than our previous teachers. She is focused on stretching rather than breath work. She does not explain things well to the newer students in the class and is a bit careless about calling the poses by their names, but classes at a yoga studio would be pretty expensive for us, so I suppose our current class will have to do. - 1/27/2009   10:00:24 PM
  • 90
    I am never a Yoga person but I will do it once in a while. I am recovering from a stomach flu so this morning I did Yoga to have a small exercise fix. I know a guy who went to India for two years just to learn how to do yoga properly. Yoga is all he does to stay fit. Isn't that interesting how our body, mind, and emotion react to exercise so differently? - 1/27/2009   3:13:37 PM
  • 89
    my highschool gym teacher taught us the sun salutation routine, and i've been doing it ever since. i thought yoga would be easy. it's just streatching, how hard could that be? i was wrong. but you feel so good afterwards. i don't do much exercise because i have a very physically demanding job,that is a workout in itself. but i do yoga when i need to unwind and relax. i often do various poses to work the kinks out. i hurt my back once, and the doctor was very surprised at how flexible i was considering i'm plus-sized. you will definitely work up a sweat with yoga. because i'm am a bbw, medical personnel are always surprised at my low blood pressure, and good health. it's definitely the yoga. i usually use dvds or i work out to this yoga program that comes on cable. and when i'm pressed for time i just do my 10 minute a day routine. just learning how to breathe correctly and correct posture can make a difference in yyour life. i definitely reccommend this for people with mobility problems or other health issues. - 1/27/2009   7:03:34 AM
  • 88
    I do yoga 1 to 2 times a week. One of my fellow teachers does yoga for teachers after school. I tell you after spending all day teaching kindergarten, yoga is wonderful and relaxing. I really want to try Bickram yoga but have been to scared to try it. My favorite pose is triangle and tree. The most challening is the side plank.
    I am actually going to a training in February to become an instructor for kids yoga. The kids in my class love doing yoga as much as I do. - 1/26/2009   9:18:52 PM
  • 87
    And for those of us with back injuries or chronic back pain there is an alternative: "Yoga for the Rest of Us" by Peggy Cappy (as seen on PBS). No reason not to try it and reap the many benefits! - 1/26/2009   8:39:38 PM
  • 86
    I do yoga on the WII! I love it and it is very challenging because the WII focuses on your steadiness and center of gravity. The most difficult pose for me is the standing tree pose. I love downward dog as it feels good on my back. - 1/26/2009   4:24:33 PM
  • 85
    After I had back surgery for a ruptured disc I was sent to therapy called work hardening and they used Yoga as one of the strengthening and relaxing exercises. I really enjoy doing it. - 1/26/2009   3:48:48 PM
    I went to my first yoga class in 6 years on Saturday, and am still feeling great from stretching and working muscles I forgot I had. I'm so glad I decided to get back to it! - 1/26/2009   12:07:51 PM
    I keep telling my daughter that I want to try yoga & still have not done so. I need to check out a couple of the sources mentioned. Thanx so much for the info! - 1/26/2009   11:17:52 AM
    I keep telling my daughter that I want to try yoga & still have not done so. I need to check out a couple of the sources mentioned. Thanx so much for the info! - 1/26/2009   11:17:51 AM
  • 81
    I've been practicing Iyengar Yoga for 10 years. I find forward bends to be the most challenging and my favourite poses are inversions. - 1/26/2009   10:39:58 AM
  • 80
    I've been doing hatha poses for 25 years but not long ago took a class in vinyasa yoga and loved it! Never would I go back to just holding poses, but prefer movement by far. My favorite pose is while standing on one leg, the other leg is stretched behind you and both arms are stretched in front of you in the air all perpendicular to the floor. - 1/26/2009   6:23:05 AM
    I am kind of new at this- but I want to thank Lels.grl who suggested to go to expert village .com to get yoga videos- I did and I put in YOGA for the overweight- I found poses that I can do !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks
    I am overweight and have arthritis and have been wanting to try YOGA-
    Thanks again. - 1/26/2009   12:37:56 AM
  • 78
    Rodney Yee has the best work out Yoga videos. I like Priscilla Patrick from as she had a PBS-TV series. She is very good and is 65 now. She is 5'6" and 110# and very strong. She is amazing. - 1/26/2009   12:29:09 AM
  • 77
    I really enjoy yoga. I took my firt class when I was pregnant and I think it really helped me. I enjoy Hatha and I have also tried Kundalini which is also a very enjoyable workout ( not so much while I am doing it but definitely feels great when its over). My favorite pose is dog ward facing dog and child's pose. They really help when I am not feeling well. - 1/26/2009   12:15:31 AM
  • 76
    This was neat sadly I just found it today and they didn't have a link for Canada but that's ok I'll still bust out with my trusty dvds!

    Thank you for the post :D - 1/25/2009   9:31:45 PM
    This is another good article. My daughter and I want to join a Yoga Class but I have been putting it off - now I won't. - 1/25/2009   9:04:46 PM
  • 74
    This may be an odd question, but is Yoga for people of all shapes and sizes? - 1/25/2009   7:45:34 PM
    I've never tried it. - 1/25/2009   6:45:18 PM
    I've never tried yoga but am hoping to in the near future. I may try one of the DVDs listed above. - 1/25/2009   5:59:58 PM
  • 71
    Happy Yoga Day everyone! I do Hatha Yoga every other day in my home using The Flow Series DVD. I personally prefer Hatha because of the slow pace, keeps you in control of your movement and is also great for beginners. And the funny part about it is that it does make me sweat more than strength training. - 1/25/2009   5:47:24 PM
  • 70
    I have some yoga videos that I've used off and on (more off than on) for a few years that I really enjoyed, but just didn't stick with. I work at a university and they offer beginning yoga every semester so I took it last semester. It went three days a week during the lunch hour and it was GREAT! It's vinyasa yoga and I'm doing it again this semester.

    I run 25-30 miles a week and I think yoga is a large part of the reason that I have been able to do intense, regular speedwork this winter without injury. It makes me calm and relaxed and totally blissed out in the middle of my work day too. My co-workers sure like me better when I do yoga! ;-)

    My favorite poses are inverted V, standing forward bend, and any others that help me stretch out my hamstrings. For as klutzy as I can be I'm surprisingly good at balance poses too - I do a pretty good Tree Pose if I do say so myself. The hardest one for me was something that I think was called Eagle Pose. You have to essentially prop yourself up on your hands - it looks like the beginnings of a handstand. Our class made our yoga teacher a little concerned when we started falling forward onto our heads - it was pretty funny. And The Plow hurts my back if I do it too long.

    Anyway, yoga is great - I love that it teaches me to breathe, I love that it helps me stay injury free, I love how it relaxes me. So many good things about yoga. - 1/25/2009   5:41:21 PM
  • 69
    I don't think I would ever do yoga. : ( - 1/25/2009   4:32:46 PM
  • 68
    I have a yoga dvd that I really enjoy. Im not a flexible person so I take it slow and do what I can. I have noticed that I can bend over and touch the floor now, just a month ago that would have caused me serious back pain...thats one benefit of yoga. I do feel stronger when Im done and I do yoga (30-45 min) every saturday and then 30 minutes of cardio. - 1/25/2009   2:54:25 PM
  • TEACHING2005
    I started yoga when I went to college years ago. In my second year of college, I had to have back surgery for a herniated disc. My doctor told me that I would need to make sure to do exercises to keep my back in good shape since I was young and wanted to have children yet. I told him about Yoga and he said that was a great exercise to help strenghten my back.

    Now, six years after back surgery and one baby later, my back is great and I still practice yoga. It not only helps my back but it keeps me in shape to run after a toddler and gives me a sense of peace. I would recommend yoga to anyone!!! - 1/25/2009   1:14:26 PM
  • 66
    I've been practicing Bikram yoga for almost five years. Bikram yoga gives you a great overall workout. If you think yoga doesn't give you a cardio workout, try a Bikram class. Just make sure you hydrate well before class and bring water to your class.
    My only criticism with much of yoga today is that it tries to incorporate spirituality and religion. Yoga is not a religion and it shouldn't be made into one. You can feel better when doing yoga, but that doesn't mean youare being spiritual. Spirituality is much deeper than that. It doesn't center on one's self. - 1/25/2009   12:25:10 PM
  • 65
    I need to try it because I'm sure it would be beneficial but I don't think I'm flexible enough and some poses may aggravate my vertigo. I have Oxygen Channel and Fit TV so I have access to the yoga shows and there are classes all over my city. Can anyone suggest the best way for a "flexibility-challenged", middle aged woman to get started with it? - 1/25/2009   11:49:01 AM
  • 64
    I enjoy incorporating yoga poses into my post strength stretching. Right now I am trying to lose weight, so I tend to focus on cardio...I hope that as I reach my goals and am maintaining, I will do yoga more regularly! It is very calming and has actually been a tool that I use in other parts of my life to relax or remedy a pain. Happy Belated Yoga Day to all! - 1/25/2009   11:45:33 AM
    Stepfanie, I had NO idea yesterday was Happy Yoga Day!! LOL!! I've tried a couple on from off the TV- loved the gentleness of one- couldn't stand the 'blah, blah, blah,' on another and bought a DVD which is good except it goes through every single pose and I'm supposed to pick out the poses I want, THEN... see what the 'counter' reads on WHERE that pose is (i.e. so many minutes into the DVD, I'll find 'this pose' than so many minutes later, I'll find 'that pose') so I must stop and fast forward to each pose... it's very NOT Namaste. I did find some of the stretches (poses) here on SP (with Coach_Nicole) are I've read just about every Yoga article I could find here, but... I don't know if I'm just 'missing it' like I missed the Happy Yoga Day, or what... but I don't see- can't find any video here... you know... like the ones on Pilates... maybe I'm looking in the wrong place---

    Oh, WOW!! WOW, WOW, WOW (LOL!!) I just found this combo on the Fitness Plan Generator (Workout Generator Search Results) that puts BOTH the Pilates AND the Yoga together!! It's called Yogilates Workout!! I'll have to give it a try!!

    Namaste!! - 1/25/2009   10:18:12 AM
  • 62
    I would love to take a yoga class. I will check and see if we have
    any classes locally for beginners. Sunny - 1/25/2009   9:29:11 AM
  • 61
    I started taking a beginner's yoga class offered at my gym at the beginning of the year. It's only been 3 weeks but I do like it a lot. I'm used to doing high impact cardio and strength training and the yoga is a nice chage of pace once a week.

    I'm thinking that increasing my balance, flexibility and strength will probably help all the other activites I do!

    ~Tara - 1/25/2009   9:21:41 AM
  • TMCH1512
    You feel so good when you are done. Give it a whirl. - 1/25/2009   9:15:38 AM
  • 59
    I used to practice yoga religiously and even taught it for two years. I fell off the wagon, but I do 10-20 minutes every day of stretching which includes yoga stretches. My favorite pose was downward dog. I liked the way it felt and the benefits of stronger arms and shoulders along with the great leg stretch. I found the balancing strength poses like side splank and triangle very challenging, although tree and eagle I did without problems probably because the strength component was missing. I still find upper body strength to be the biggest problem for me. - 1/25/2009   8:56:04 AM
  • 58
    I love love love Yoga, I started taking yoga classes at the neighborhood YMCA 20 months ago. I take between 2 and 4 classes a week, do stretches at home every day as well and incorporate many of the poses as my stretches before and after my workouts and fitness classes. I actually got a 1/2 inch taller after one year of doing yoga, lengthening my spine and at 52 , I am happy for every bit of height I have and can regain. Many of the poses are challenging and some are challenging one day but not the next. My favorite pose is the yoga dancer pose, what a great all over body stretch, and balance pose all in one. Believe it or not child pose is one of the most challenging for me, since I have a spine injury and my back is like an ironing board and being huge breasted and top heavy it is very difficult for me to get my hips down to my heels while my head and chest are down ( I look like a teeter totter , one end up one end down ) , then there are the poses where you sit on your feet ( the tops of my feet are so stiff and inflexible this hurts so much, and my instructor says PJ if it hurts it isn't yoga!, get out of the pose ).
    - 1/25/2009   8:49:35 AM
  • 57
    I take yoga classes twice a week and it's the part of my morning that prepares me for the rest of the day. I have videos I do at home occasionally also. My classes are Hatha, but at home I practice Vinyasa and Kundalini. I like the downdog pose the best, it seems to help with circulation, but I have a little trouble sometimes with the side planks, I have a weak wrist on one side. If I didn't do some yoga each week, I feel like I've wasted the week. It gives me balance, focus and a spiritual strength. - 1/25/2009   3:35:40 AM
  • 56
    About a week ago I got my first yoga dvd. I am more that 60lbs overweight and I was a little worried that my new DVD would be way too challenging...but with some practice and patience I'm getting the hang of it...and I'm really starting to enjoying it. - 1/25/2009   1:09:09 AM

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