I attended my first yoga class the other day, and found it to be a very positive and healing experience. It requires a focus, an absolute awareness of one’s self, more so than anything I've done in the past. It's more than just movements, positions, and flexibility; it's about finding that connection between body and mind; something that's lost in today's world.
The movements are fluid, each having a purpose, each new one beginning where the last left off. The positions are a workout for both the body and the mind, some more difficult than others, but each a strategically chosen destination where form means everything. They're held with the utmost concentration, long enough for you to become aware of every muscle being used, and every breath being taken, thinking of nothing else. With breathing at its core, yoga requires an empty mind, with all of the day’s stresses left at the door. You must be centered, in almost a meditative state for lack of a better word, freeing yourself of life's distractions and harnessing energy from within.
The health benefits of such practices (meditation, controlled breathing, and total awareness) are real and have been documented many times by many people. My experience with yoga was a positive one, that I am convinced can improve my health beyond the point of a healthy diet. It's important to rid yourself of life's stresses in order to live a healthy life. The body is designed to handle stress, but in short bursts, not to be carried on our shoulders day in and day out. This burden taxes our immune system, and although a healthy diet is crucial in order to replenish our bodies with the nutrients necessary for dealing with these stresses, it's important to lessen this burden before it becomes too much to handle and yoga may just be the answer.