Finally the sun is beginning to shine a little brighter in Chicago. There is less rain and more time to be active and warm! During the summertime you can go to the beach or visit museums, but have you ever thought about yoga? Yes, there are actually classes where you can be active and practice yoga: in Millennium Park, to be exact. But before we go into that, let’s talk a little bit about the benefits of yoga. For years I’ve had no idea why yoga was considered fitness, I just thought it was awkward poses and being relaxed. But thanks to a bit of research I’ve found the benefits and wanted to share them with you.
Namaste! Yoga Really Works!
Yoga, contrary to my initial beliefs, is more than deep breathing and intricate body movements. Some yoga focuses just on learning physical poses and breathing techniques, while others can be for relaxation. Yoga allows you to develop flexibility, strength, and balance. According to webmd.com, yoga safely stretches your muscles which may release the lactic acid that can cause stiffness, tension, and pain. Yoga also increases the range of motion in your joints while stretching the soft tissues in your body.
Not only will you have increased flexibility through yoga but your muscles can be toned as well. Poses like the downward dog and plank pose can build upper-body strength while standing poses may build strength in the hamstrings and quadriceps. Nearly all poses build core strength in the deep abdominal muscles. Yoga has been proven to help posture and increase body awareness so that you may be alerted when you are slouching or slumping. A very interesting thing is that the deep breathing done during yoga does more than relax you, it also improves sports performance and endurance.
Deepening and lengthening your breath stimulates the relaxation response, relieving you of stress and allowing you to have a calmer mind. Actually, yoga decreases the hormones produced in response to stress and lowers hormone neurotransmitters, creating a calm feeling. By practicing yoga many people have been in a happier mood and have increased concentration. All of these facts should make you excited to do yoga!
When practicing yoga I have found a few tips:
- When practicing yoga be aware of the risks of overstretching and strain from repetition to the neck, shoulders, spine, etc.
- Try yoga with a professional trainer before trying to learn on your own. You might do poses that can cause injury to your body.
- Remember to warm up, wear proper clothing, and take it slow!
Yoga in Chicago
Now that you know more about yoga here’s the fun part. You can actually do yoga in Millennium Park–for free! From June 8th through September 7th on Saturdays 7-11am there are free workout classes on the Great Lawn. Yoga is from 8-9am but there are also great classes like Tai Chi, Pilates, and Zumba! You can find more details at cityofchicago.org. I’m going to definitely give yoga a try and attend one of these classes! I hope you will join me and then head on over to Mezza Grill for lunch!
Are there any Chicago yoga enthusiasts who are willing to give this a try? Do you already go to these classes and love them? Let us know and be sure to like and comment!