Last summer, I tried to teach my brother yoga. It didn't go well, and throughout our practice he said, 'This isn't sport – this is just stretching!' The next morning, however, he felt sore in muscles he never knew he had! This made me think – yoga doesn't make your heart race like running, it doesn't make you sweat like a game of football, so is it really sport?
Even people who do yoga disagree about this. Some treat it as a way to keep fit, others say it's a kind of meditation, and some even call it a lifestyle. There is no doubt that it keeps your body in shape though. During yoga, you hold poses or stretches, and move smoothly between them. This tones and stretches your muscles, because there is lots of repetition. It's vital, however, that you don't stress your body. Yoga instructors help new pupils to listen to their bodies, because you are not meant to feel pain. Moves can be done differently for beginners and people with more experience, and depending on how far you can stretch. This makes it very healthy, as you are looking after your bones but exercising your muscles.
On the other hand, breathing in yoga makes it more like meditation. Learning how and when to breathe is a difficult part of yoga, but when you understand it, it changes your mindset. During certain poses or movements, you must breathe in or out, or stay still for a few deep breaths. This makes your yoga smoother, because your breathing makes your movement flow. It's also tricky to know how to breathe correctly and there are different kinds of breath. This is why I would recommend going to classes if you want to start yoga, so an instructor can teach you this well.
Concentrating on breathing and moving is a great way to relax your mind. It forces you to think about your body and feel what is happening, which makes it easier to forget everything else. You also have a relaxation period at the end of a yoga practice. Listening to music, hearing your instructor's soothing voice, or just being silent all help take you away from everyday things.
In my opinion, yoga is a sport, but it has other things to offer too. It tones my body and keeps me fit, while taking care of my mind – plus afterwards, I feel happy, energetic and ready for anything. Namaste!
Do you think of yoga as a sport? Have you ever tried yoga?