Is it beneficial?

If you’re like most people, you probably have heard of yoga before. You also probably know that it involves certain positions and some meditation, but is that all it is? Are there health advantages to practicing yoga? How do you start?

YogaOur culture provides constant stimulation. Yoga offers a way to slow your mind down and restore a sense of balance. In 2016, Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance conducted a study (Yoga in America) and found that 36.7 million people were practicing yoga, a 50% increase from 2012. College and professional sports teams include yoga into more traditional workouts as a potent form of mind-body conditioning. The good news is that yoga is for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, overweight or fit. Yoga is more than a physical exercise; it has the power to calm the mind and strengthen the body. Usually, it involves a set of specific poses combined with specific breathing techniques and meditation principles. The key is to move slowly through each pose, remembering to breathe as you move. The goal is to hold each pose for a few, slow breaths before moving on to the next one. If a pose causes pain or is too difficult, some variations and modifications can be made. Often this involves props, like blocks, blankets, straps, and chairs. The best yoga workout for you depends on your individual needs and goals. Male yoga practitioners are called yogis, and female practitioners are yoginis.

Yoga History

Yoga is tied to ancient Indian philosophy and has been practiced for over 5,000 years. Some experts think that it may be up to 10,000 years old. Therefore, many yoga poses have both Sanskrit and English names. While yoga is known for its poses, they weren’t a part of original yoga traditions. Instead, the focus was on expanding spiritual energy using breathing methods and mental focus. There is no written record of the inventor of yoga. The early writings on yoga were transcribed on fragile palm leaves that were easily damaged, destroyed, or lost. The discipline was passed down from teachers to students, and many different types of yoga developed. Yoga’s long history can be divided into four main periods of innovation, practice, and development.

Pre-Classical Yoga

The Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India developed the beginnings of yoga. The word “yoga” was first mentioned in the oldest sacred texts, the Rig Veda. The Vedas were a collection of texts containing songs, mantras, and rituals used by Brahmans (Vedic priests). The practice was slowly refined and developed by the Brahmans and Rishis (mystic seers). They documented their practices and beliefs in the Upanishads (an extensive work containing over 200 scriptures). The most renowned of these scriptures is the Bhagavad-Gîtâ, which was composed around 500 BCE. The Upanishads took the idea of ritual sacrifice from the Vedas and internalized it, teaching the sacrifice of the ego through self-knowledge, action (karma yoga), and wisdom (jnana yoga).

Classical Yoga

The Yoga-Sûtras define the period. It is the first systematic presentation of yoga and serves as a guidebook on how to master the mind, control emotions, and grow spiritually. It provides the framework for all modern yoga. In the second century, the text was written by Patanjali (an Indian sage), who is considered the father of yoga. The work organizes the practice of yoga into an “eight-limbed path” containing the steps and stages towards obtaining Samadhi or enlightenment. The eight-limb system is an integral and highly regarded part of yoga. Nowadays, we practice asana, the physical postures, the most.

Post-Classical Yoga

A few centuries after Patanjali, yoga masters came up with a system of practices designed to rejuvenate the body and prolong life. Under these principles, they rejected the teachings of the ancient Vedas. Instead, they embraced the physical body as the means to achieve enlightenment. The result was Tantra Yoga, which used radical techniques to cleanse the body and mind to break the knots that bind us to our physical existence. This led to the creation of what we primarily think of yoga in the West: Hatha Yoga.

Modern Yoga

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, yoga masters began to travel to the West. In 1893, Swami Vivekananda attended the Parliament of Religions in Chicago and wowed the attendees with his lectures on yoga and the universality of the world’s religions. In the 1920s and 30s, Hatha Yoga was strongly promoted in India with the work of T. Krishnamacharya, Swami Sivananda, and others. Krishnamacharya produced three students that would continue his legacy and increase the popularity: BKS. Iyengar (Iyengar yoga), T.K.V. Desikachar (Viniyoga yoga) and K. Pattabhi Jois (Ashtanga yoga). Many styles practiced today have evolved from them. Sivananda wrote over 200 books on yoga and established nine ashrams and numerous yoga centers located worldwide. The importation of yoga to the West continued at a trickle until Indra Devi opened her yoga studio in Hollywood in 1947.

Teachings

Yoga maintains that chakras (means spinning wheel) are center points of energy, thoughts, feelings, and the physical body. They determine how people experience reality through emotional reactions, desires/aversions, levels of confidence/fear, and even physical symptoms and effects. When energy becomes blocked in a chakra, it’s thought to cause physical, mental, or emotional imbalances that manifest in symptoms. There are seven major chakras, each with its own focus. Sahasrara is the “thousand-petaled” or “crown” chakra and represents the state of pure consciousness. It’s located at the crown of the head and involves matters of inner wisdom and physical death. Its colors are white or violet. Ajna is the “command” or “third-eye chakra” and is a meeting point between two important energetic streams in the body. It relates to the pituitary gland, which drives growth and development. Its colors are violet, indigo, or deep blue, though traditional yoga practitioners describe it as white. Vishuddha is the “especially pure” or “throat” chakra and is considered the home of speech, hearing, and metabolism. Its colors are red or blue. Anahata is the “unstruck” or “heart” chakra and involves the anahata, including complex emotions, compassion, tenderness, unconditional love, equilibrium, rejection, and wellbeing. Its colors are green and pink. Manipura is the “jewel city” or “navel” chakra and is connected with the digestive system, as well as personal power, fear, anxiety, developing opinions, and tendencies towards an introverted personality. Its color is yellow. Svadhishthana is the “one’s own base” or “pelvic” chakra, the home of the reproductive organs, the genitourinary system, and the adrenal gland. Muladhara is the “root support” or “root chakra” and located at the base of the spine in the coccygeal region. It is said to contain our natural urges relating to food, sleep, sex, and survival, as well as the source of avoidance and fear.

Ancient teachings also divided yoga into six branches. Each “branch” has a different focus and set of characteristics. Hatha yoga is the physical and mental branch designed to prime the body and mind. Raja yoga is the branch that involves meditation and strict adherence to the eight limbs of yoga. Karma yoga is the path of service that aims to create a future free from negativity and selfishness. Bhakti yoga seeks to establish the path of devotion, a positive way to channel emotions and cultivate acceptance and tolerance. Jnana yoga is about wisdom, the path of the scholar, and developing the intellect through study. Tantra yoga is the pathway of ritual, ceremony, or consummation of a relationship.

Modern Types

There are many styles of yoga classes taught today. Some are very physically challenging; others are gentle and restorative. Certain types have music during class. Other classes include references to yoga philosophy and spirituality. Here are a few types:

Hatha: The most common form of yoga being taught in America today. This generally refers to the physical part of yoga instead of yoga philosophy or meditation. It’s likely to be a combination of poses and breathing exercises. These classes usually serve as a gentle introduction to the basic yoga postures. Classes are often slower-paced but holding the poses can be more physically demanding. This is why it can be hard to know whether it will be challenging or gentle. Check with the school or the teacher to find more about the level of classes.

Vinyasa or Flow: It is a relatively energetic flowing sequence of yoga poses. Depending on the level, it can include advanced poses. Many vinyasa classes have musical accompaniment of the teacher’s choosing. This dynamic type synchronizes movement with breath and may be referred to as a “flow class.” It usually moves faster than a traditional Hatha class.

Iyengar: The focus is on the precision of yoga poses to find the correct alignment/posture and gain increased muscular power/range of motion, which is why it’s known for using props, including blankets, blocks, straps, ropes, and bolsters. This helps students do poses that they wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. Classes also tend to include breathing exercises and references to yoga philosophy.

Ashtanga: A challenging, fast-paced style centered around a progressive series of yoga sequences that students usually practice independently under the guidance of a teacher. There is a strong focus on breath. In traditional classes, you can only move onto the next pose or series after you’ve mastered the last. Classes include advanced poses, such as arm balances, and inversions, like headstands and shoulder stands. As a result, beginner students are strongly advised to study with an experienced teacher. Classes will also often include teachings in yoga philosophy.

Power Yoga: This type is aimed at strength-building, which means these classes include advanced poses and inversions that require a lot of strength. It was developed in the late 1980s based on the traditional ashtanga system.

Viniyoga: It’s adaptable to any person, regardless of physical ability. Teachers are required to have in-depth training and tend to be experts on anatomy and yoga therapy. Classes focus on breathing and meditation for people with limited mobility or who want to work from the inside out to experience relaxation, body awareness, and better posture.

Bikram or Hot Yoga: It involves a set series of 26 poses and two breathing exercises performed in a room heated to 105 degrees with 40% humidity. The warmer temperature is said to allow for deeper stretching and provide for a better cardiovascular workout. These classes are always done in rooms with mirrors.

Restorative: This entails a few restful poses held for extended periods (10 minutes or more). The poses include light twists, seated forward folds, and gentle back-bends, usually done with the assistance of many props, including blankets, blocks, and bolsters. This is a relaxing yoga method and is a helpful practice for people living with chronic pain or anyone feeling stressed.

Yin: The goal of this type is to stretch the connective tissue around the pelvis, sacrum, spine, and knees to promote flexibility. Poses are passive, meaning that gravity shoulders most of the force and effort. They’re held for about three to five minutes. It is a quiet yoga style that helps people who have tight muscles, stress, or chronic pain. It’s also called Taoist yoga

Jivamukti: Jivamukti means “liberation while living.” This type emerged in 1984 and incorporates spiritual teachings and practices that focus on the fast-paced flow between poses rather than the poses themselves. This type is similar to vinyasa. Each class has a theme explored through yoga scripture, chanting, meditation, asana, pranayama, and music. It can be physically intense. This style is excellent for people who want to incorporate spiritual elements and ancient teachings of yoga in their practice while gaining body awareness, learning Sanskrit, and improving relationships.

Kripalu: This type teaches how to know, accept, and learn from the body. You learn to find your own level of practice by looking inward. The classes usually begin with breathing exercises and gentle stretches, followed by a series of individual poses and final relaxation.

Kundalini: Kundalini means “coiled, like a snake.” This style is a system of meditation that aims to release pent-up energy. A class typically begins with chanting and ends with singing. In between, it features asana, pranayama, and meditation customized to create a specific outcome. It incorporates repeated movements, dynamic breathing, mantras, chanting, and meditation. It’s believed to awaken the energy at the base of the spine and draw it upward through the chakras.

Sivananda: This system has a five-point philosophy, which maintains that proper breathing, relaxation, diet, exercise, and positive thinking work together to form a healthy yogic lifestyle. Typically, it uses the same 12 basic poses, bookended by sun salutations and savasana poses.

Prenatal yoga: It uses postures that have been designed for people who are pregnant. It can support people in getting back into shape after pregnancy.

Important Elements

Poses are an essential component of all practices of yoga. However, depending on the focus of the type and your skill level, the poses you’ll be doing can vary significantly. Check out our guide of the most common poses.

Another vital factor is breathing techniques. They help you stay focused while practicing, reduce stress, relax the nervous system, and calm the mind. The formal name for this practice is pranayama. “Prana” means life force, energy, or qi, while “ayama” is the Sanskrit word for extension. During yoga, you will be instructed to notice your breath and the way your body moves during the exercises. This is the foundation of a mind-body connection, offers a way into meditation. Learn breathing techniques here.

Both mindfulness and meditation are integral parts of yoga. The key is to become aware of your body’s physical sensations and notice these sensations without judgment. The more you do this, the more you’ll notice how your posture is throughout the day (even at work or while doing other activities). You can start practicing meditation right now. A simple technique is to find a comfortable seat and set a timer for how long you’d like to meditate (usually somewhere between 5 to 10 minutes to start). Close your eyes and notice the sounds around you. Listen as they come and go. Bring your awareness to your physical body. What’s the temperature of your skin? Can you notice what’s touching your skin? Focus the attention from your head and move down to your feet. Are certain parts of your body harder to detect? Which factors are easier? Now, focus on your breath. Notice the cool air as you breathe in, and the warm air as you breathe out. Start to count your breath. Inhale on 1 and exhale on 2. Continue counting up to 10. Repeat until the end of your meditation. After doing this, you’ll not only be more aware of your body, but you’ll probably be more relaxed. Don’t worry if you find yourself getting distracted. Meditation takes practice!

Benefits

The benefits of a regular yoga practice are wide-ranging. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), scientific evidence demonstrates that yoga supports stress management, mental health, mindfulness, healthy eating, weight loss, and quality sleep.

When you’re stressed, your cortisol level increases, which temporarily boosts immune function. However, if your cortisol levels stay high most of the time, it can compromise your immune system. Additionally, chronically elevated cortisol levels have been linked to memory problems, major depression, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and insulin resistance. Ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, and constipation are exacerbated by stress. According to researchers, high cortisol levels lead to “food-seeking behavior” (the kind that drives you to eat when you’re upset, angry, or stressed). Yoga lowers blood sugar and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and boosts HDL (“good”) cholesterol. It does this by reducing cortisol and adrenaline levels and improving sensitivity to the effects of insulin.

When you practice yoga, your body relaxes, your breathing slows, and you focus on the present. This shifts you from the sympathetic nervous system (or the fight-or-flight response) to the parasympathetic nervous system, which is calming and restorative. Several studies have found that yoga not only lowers the resting heart rate but increases endurance and expands your maximum uptake of oxygen during exercise. When your cells get more oxygen, they function better. A study published in The Lancet looked at individuals with hypertension and compared the effects of Savasana (Corpse Pose) with simply lying on a couch. After three months, Savasana was associated with a 26-point drop in systolic blood pressure (the top number) and a 15-point drop in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number). The researchers found the higher the initial blood pressure, the more significant the reduction.

Yoga helps keep your back and joints healthy, improve your overall posture, stretch/strengthen muscles and improve your balance. Yoga poses increase flexibility and mobility because your body goes through a full range and variety of motions that counteract aches and pains associated with tension or poor postural habits. In fact, the American College of Physicians recommends yoga as a first-line treatment for chronic low back pain. A John Hopkins review of 11 studies found that gentle yoga has been shown to ease some of the discomfort of tender, swollen joints for people with arthritis. This occurs because each time you practice yoga, you take your body through movements that squeeze and soak areas of cartilage that normally aren’t used. One way to look at joint cartilage is that it’s like a sponge, meaning it receives fresh nutrients only when its fluid is squeezed out and a new supply can be soaked up. Your spinal disks are similar in that they need to be compressed to get nutrients. They reside between the vertebrae to absorb shock and can herniate, compressing nerves. This is more likely to happen if they don’t have enough nutrients. An unpublished study conducted at California State University, Los Angeles, found that yoga practice increased bone density in the vertebrae. Don’t worry; the rest of your bones benefit too. It’s well documented that weight-bearing exercise strengthens bones. Since many yoga postures require you to lift your own weight, it’s a great way to ward off osteoporosis. Yoga improves your balance because it increases proprioception (the ability to feel what your body is doing and where it is in space). For elderly individuals, this is especially important since it could mean fewer falls.

Yoga helps your lymphatic system (a component of your immune system). By contracting and stretching muscles and moving organs around through various yoga poses, you increase the drainage of lymph (a viscous fluid rich in immune cells). The movement of fluid helps the lymphatic system fight infection, destroy cancerous cells, and dispose of the toxic waste products of cellular functioning. Also, yoga boosts the immune system when needed (ex. raising antibody levels in response to a vaccine) and lowering it when needed (ex. mitigating an inappropriately aggressive immune function in an autoimmune disease like psoriasis).

The impact yoga has on your mental health is vast. Essential components of practicing are focusing on the present and being aware of your body. Many people suffer from chronic low self-esteem. By partaking in yoga, you’ll sense, initially in brief glimpses and later in more sustained views, that you’re worthwhile. Through self-examination with the goal of betterment, you can access a different side of yourself. Often this leads to feelings of gratitude, empathy, and forgiveness toward others and yourself. Many people develop a sense that we’re part of something bigger. One study discovered that consistently practicing yoga improved depression and led to a noteworthy increase in serotonin levels (the feel-good brain chemical) and a decrease in monoamine oxidase levels (an enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters). Also, the more aware you are, the easier it is to break free of destructive emotions, like anger. Yogic philosophy emphasizes avoiding harm to others, telling the truth, and taking only what you need; all of these may improve many of your relationships. Yoga is also found to improve coordination, reaction time, memory, and IQ scores.

Risks

Yoga is safe for most people because it’s low impact. The key is to have a well-trained instructor guiding your practice. It’s essential to note that anyone who is pregnant or has an on-going medical condition, such as high blood pressure, glaucoma, or sciatica, should talk to their healthcare practitioner before practicing yoga. When using yoga to manage a condition, don’t replace conventional medical care with yoga or postpone seeing a healthcare provider about pain or any other medical problem. It could be beneficial to talk to a yoga therapist because they can put together an individualized plan that works with your medical and surgical therapies.

The main issue is that people try too hard, which often leads to injury. To prevent this, beginners should avoid extreme poses and complex techniques. When you’re first starting, participate in beginner classes and fundamental workshops. These are slower-paced and offer a series of low-intensity positions focusing on alignment and safely getting into the poses. This will allow you to increase your flexibility and endurance gradually. It’s key to be aware of your physical limitations and when needed to modify a pose.

Where To Do Yoga

The only way to reap the full benefits of yoga is to make it a regular part of your routine. Willingness to take that first step is the first tool. Start small and manageable, 10 – 15 minutes a day. Since yoga isn’t one-size-fits-all, try different styles to find the best one for you. This might mean trying several different yoga classes. There are many ways to practice, such as studios, gyms, community centers, schools, integrative health practices, workplace/corporate yoga, outdoor venues, online videos, and social media channels. Regardless of where you decide to practice, look for an experienced yoga instructor with at least a 200-hour teaching certificate from a teacher-training program accredited with the Yoga Alliance. These programs include training on injury prevention. Ultimately, how much you enjoy any class will come down to how much you like the teacher. While good yoga teachers can do wonders for your health, exceptional ones do more than guide you through the poses; they can adjust your posture, gauge when you should go deeper or back off, deliver hard truths with compassion, help you relax, and enhance/personalize your practice.

The typical length of a group class at a studio is 60, 75, or 90 minutes. Usually, the teacher will guide you through breathing techniques and moving your body into the poses. Some teachers demonstrate the poses in small classes, whereas, in larger classes, participants must rely on verbal cues. You’re expected to be on time to class because coming in late is disruptive. Remember to turn your cellphone off before class. If a class is crowded, students will be aligned mat-to-mat. Therefore, most yoga classrooms have shelves for valuables, drinks, and other personal items. For Bikram or hot yoga classes, bring a towel since you’ll be sweating. Most studios are well-equipped with yoga props, such as blocks, blankets, straps, and bolsters. If you’re trying out a new studio, it’s a good idea to call ahead or check online to be sure. Classes typically begin with a brief introduction by the teacher that may include a focus or theme for the day. Next, the teacher often will instruct the class to chant the word “Om” together. (Om is a Sanskrit term that connotes the connectivity of all things in the universe.) While there is no obligation to chant, you should at least remain quiet during that time. Some breathing techniques are meant to be loud, and others are not—take your cues from the teacher. If you must leave early, tell the teacher ahead of time, position yourself near the back of the room, and leave before the relaxation period at the end of class.

Given the technological age we live in, yoga can be done at home (online). There is an assortment of apps and streaming sites available. Gaia has unlimited streaming of its yoga classes, with an extensive roster of teachers. Not only can you select classes based on duration, style, teacher, level, and focus, but there are special series for beginners, travelers, athletes, and weight loss. It costs about $8 a month on an annual membership plan. YogaGlo has over 3,500 classes with a variety of yoga styles and teachers. Classes range from five minutes to two hours. They also have classes on meditation and yoga philosophy. It’s $18 a month for unlimited streaming. Yoga Today has a large collection of videos filmed outdoors. Some of them free if you sign up for the site’s newsletter. This site also has short videos that break down poses. It’s $10 a month on an annual plan. Yoga Studio is designed to provide you the optimal yoga experience on your phone. Since you can download classes, you don’t need access to the internet at all times. The site has over 60 classes from 15 to 60 minutes long and a pose guide. Curvy Yoga Studio is a welcoming yoga platform for people of all sizes, focusing on providing instructions on how to modify yoga poses if you are overweight. Besides video classes, you get access to their live practices and library of mini eBooks on topics ranging from setting up a home yoga studio to how to start a meditation practice. Its fee is $20 a month. Yoga Journal was started in 1975 by a group of yoga teachers from California as a print magazine (which is still available). However, they also have one of the most comprehensive online yoga sites available. Need help deciding where to practice, check out our checklist.

Budget

When it comes to deciding where to practice yoga, the cost can play a role in the decision-making process. You don’t need to buy any physical products when you’re first starting your yoga practice. It’s possible to do yoga entirely for free. You can follow online videos, use household items as props, and wear comfortable clothing you already own. The critical thing to remember is to look at reviews, views, and the trainer’s background when selecting a video. For every great yoga video on YouTube, there are hundreds or thousands that aren’t good.

However, as you progress, there are some things to invest in. The first is a membership to a gym or yoga studio. The cost ranges depending on where you live and what experience you’re looking for. Many yoga studios offer session and class packages. Typically, they give you a discount on the per-session or per-class investment. A studio package or membership is somewhere between $100 to $200 per month. If you have a gym membership that includes yoga classes, it’ll probably cost $58 to $100 per month. Online yoga membership runs somewhere between $60 to $150 per year. If you would like a private session(s), you’ll need to ask the instructor their fee. The other thing you’ll want is a mat. Most yoga studios and gyms offer mats to rent, but many students prefer to buy their own for hygienic purposes and because they come in different materials, densities, and stickiness. When selecting one, keep in mind that it should prevent you from slipping and sliding while giving you a stable base for transitioning from one pose to another. Renting a yoga mat can range from $2 to $10. To purchase your own, it can range from $15 to $200, but you can get a quality mat somewhere in the $40 to $60 range. Whether you rent or own, clean your mat with antibacterial wipes. As you further advance your practice, you should consider purchasing two blocks, a strap, and a bolster. This will allow you to practice at home on the days that you can’t attend class.

Measuring Progress

Progression is “the process of developing or moving gradually toward a more advanced state.” It’s up to you to decide what “a more advanced state” means. It’s important to remember that the goal of yoga is to bring together your body and mind. When it comes to measuring physical improvements, you should look for improved range of motion/ease of movement, a reduction in pain/discomfort/physical symptoms, an increase in physical strength/endurance, the ability to control the quality of breath, fewer weight fluctuations, changes in the ways your clothes fit., better quality sleeping habits, and increased/stable energy levels. To gage mental improvements, you should see a drop in stress levels/mood swings, growth in emotional awareness, equilibrium in emotional situations, changes in personal/romantic/professional relationships, an increased sense of self/ability to live more presently, an increase in mental clarity/resilience and a deeper awareness of sensations in the body/reactions of the ego. Some ways to measure progression include using a journal, participating in group or 1:1 classes, asking for feedback, setting target dates, looking at the scale, or creating before and after photos.

Long-Term Practice Outlook

Once you’re comfortable in the foundational yoga poses, begin a home practice. Being an advanced practitioner is less about doing advanced poses. Instead, it’s more about deepening your commitment to practice on and off the mat. It doesn’t matter how short or simple your practice is as long as it’s regular (preferably daily). The style and duration of practice will vary depending on what you feel you need the most that day. This is the stepping-stone to making the physical and mental changes you’ll notice more permanent. Repetition and consistency are the keys. Core concepts of yoga philosophy reinforce this. Tapas, or burning enthusiasm, means to heat, shine, or purify. Yogis believe that the fiery effort of tapas stoked through disciplined yoga practice burns off lethargy and impurity, transforming you into your best and highest self. Start looking beyond the basics of the poses into subtle cues.

It’s also vital to cultivate more body awareness of how and where your body is positioned in space. Dive into the details, from meditation methods and pranayama (breathwork) to mudra (hand gestures) and mantra (sacred sounds). Notice the effects a consistent yoga practice has on you by observing how your body feels. As aspects of practice become more familiar, you can begin to develop what yogis call “drishti,” or focus and concentrated intention. With continued focus, increasing amounts of time will pass between periods of distraction. Apply this awareness to help you make more suitable choices, which can help you uncover a deeper understanding of your mind, habits, and reactions. Incorporate what you learn in yoga off the mat at work, at home, with loved ones, in hobbies, or during sports. Be content with results (santosha), be truthful with your words (satya), maintain orderliness in your surroundings (saucha), and be generous with your time or money (aparigraha). You’ll start to generate a feeling of clarity and calm. The difference between yoga days and non-yoga days should become less discernable.

One of the great takeaways from yoga is that everything is connected! Your spine is linked to your hipbone, which is tied to your anklebone, just as you’re part of your community, and your community is to the world. Understanding this concept is vital to grasping yoga. Once you do, the benefits you’ll receive are numerous!