As if you needed more reason to put stretchy pants on, International Yoga Day is this Wednesday, June 21. To celebrate, greenmonkey is hosting their third annual “Let’s Get It (Yoga) On” community yoga class at New World Center, powered in part by Baptist Health South Florida.
Unlike the half-dozen doughnut days we’ve “celebrated” in the past year, International Yoga Day is an actual holiday, declared by the United Nations in 2014, and set to coincide with the summer solstice. To prep, we met with Julianne Aerhee and Paula Walker, greenmonkey instructors who will lead the community flow, to discuss the health benefits of yoga and gathered some insights from Baptist Health.
It’s a natural mood booster
Paula (also known as Handstand Paula) spends a decent amount of time doing inversions — she even hosts handstand workshops. “Getting upside down is a natural antidepressant,” she said. “When you get back up you see things from a different perspective.”
Besides accumulating the balance, crazy core strength, concentration, and bragging rights to execute these cool poses, you can counter a bad mood by literally turning your frown upside down. ‘Mindful’ movement has beneficial impacts on the central nervous system, activating ‘feel good’ brain chemicals that help counteract the effects of depression. Even incorporating two low-impact classes into your week has been proven to boost people’s moods.
Getting stretchy helps reduce stress and improve focus
As a former dancer who rocked the court for the Miami Heat, Julianne said yoga helped her learn the breathing and focus on movement that more aerobic workouts may miss. “[Dancing] was like a sprint. I can breathe while I move now, and listen to my body and what it is saying.”
Yoga practices get your mind in the moment by encouraging you to sync physical movements with breathing. This coordination can lead to that elusive “mind-body connection” you keep hearing about in class.
Increasing your focus can help you reduce your stress levels, which in turn has preventative effects on stuff like high blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health. Consider it an active meditation.
Increase flexibility, balance, and strength
Julianne and Paula say that there are no prerequisites to call yourself a yogi.
Yoga can benefit all types of bodies, from folks dealing with osteoporosis and arthritis to seasoned athletes. It all depends on your goals and fitness levels.
For those already leading active lifestyles, incorporating yoga can help with injury prevention. By holding poses for extended periods of time, you’re helping restore muscles often sore and inflamed by endurance training. For those trying to break into a new workout routine, yoga can be great way to get your body moving, improve your coordination and build strength with less risk of injury than high-impact exercise.
If you’re ready to make a lifestyle change and go full-on yogi, here’s a lowdown we posted not too long ago on Miami’s yogi scene, and where to hit up free classes in case you’re downward doggin’ on a budget.
“Let’s Get It (Yoga) On!” is hosted by greenmonkey, and sponsored in part by Baptist Health South Florida. In addition to its commitment to world-class patient care, Baptist Health is committed to bringing preventative health and wellness programs to communities all over South Florida.