September is National Yoga Awareness Month, an annual designation created by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (N.C.C.I.H.). To help spread knowledge about this ancient practice, we’ll dive into the benefits of yoga and explore COAC’s yoga classes in Goleta that match your journey.
Yoga Unites the Mind, Body, and Soul
Five thousand years ago, yoga emerged as a spiritual and meditative practice in a civilization that no longer exists. In the late 19th century, yoga was introduced to Western culture and quickly grew into today’s global phenomenon. Although the Indus-Saraswati Civilization, where yoga was birthed, was highly advanced, they couldn’t have known their invention’s impact outside their own experience and observations. Today, we have the data to prove that yoga creates positive neurological and physical changes in the human body.
The Yogic Mind
The relaxed, peaceful feeling you experience after a yoga session is, technically, in your head. Physiologically, yoga’s controlled breathing techniques activate your parasympathetic nervous system, or PNS. Our PNS triggers the body to lower blood pressure and slow the heartbeat. In turn, the brain interprets these changes and processes them as a cue to feel safe and well.
Yoga also increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This protein regulates the birth and death of neural cells and induces neuroplasticity, aiding the brain in forming new pathways and structures. Low BDNF levels are found in those with neurodegenerative diseases or older brains. Increased BDNF may be why people who practice yoga regularly have more volume in their cerebral cortex and hippocampus—areas responsible for processing information, learning, and memory.
Age aside, if you struggle in these areas, you may want to consider adding yoga to your weekly routine, even if it’s just for releasing feel-good brain chemicals that yoga stimulates. Additionally, many yoga classes incorporate inverted poses that circulate blood to the hypothalamus, which may result in balanced hormone production and a more regulated stress response.
The Yogic Body
Yoga was once perceived as a series of stretches that improve flexibility. Although true, yoga’s physical perks are far more comprehensive. In fact, foundational yoga poses also increase key markers of physical health like:
Strength: Some forms of yoga use body weight and gravity for resistance, lighting up, and strengthening the body’s muscles.
Balance: Holding yoga poses challenges your core and ability to stabilize. As your core strengthens, the body is less prone to back pain, injuries, and falling.
Bone Health: Yoga also employs isometric contractions through poses like planks and lunges. Isometric exercises have been shown to improve bone density.
Cardiovascular Health: Yoga’s combination of deep breathing and cardio contribute to overall heart health and reduces cardiovascular risk factors like cholesterol, triglycerides, and high blood pressure.
Before heading to the most advanced yoga classes in Goleta to reap these health rewards, slow down! Getting clearance from your doctor is a good idea, especially if you’re recovering from an injury or have heart disease. Those with the latter should avoid hot yoga classes, as heat elevates your heart rate. Regardless of familiarity or athletic ability, start with a slow beginner class to gauge your comfort level.
Yoga Classes in Goleta
Cathedral Oaks Athletic Club has a variety of yoga classes for every fitness level. Check out which classes we recommend for different goals and journeys.
If you need to chill out and relax
Try our Gentle or Happy Hour yoga classes to wind down and heal. If your body needs to relax and loosen up, try the Yoga/Stretch class, a full-body workout that focuses on improving flexibility.
If you want to build a good foundation
Maybe you’re new to yoga or revisiting the practice. Either way, it’s helpful to attend classes where you can master the basics. Taking our Intro Level 1 Yoga class will do just that. Plus, you can always move on to Level 1/2 Yoga classes if you need more of a challenge. Another option is our Yoga class, similar to Hatha yoga, which focuses on deep breathing, traditional poses, and mindfulness. If you want to be exposed to more poses and work at your own pace, our Multilevel class allows just that!
If you’re a more experienced Yogi and want to get sculpted
Maybe you’ve breezed through beginner and intermediate classes, and need a next step. Consider testing your skills in our Advanced Yoga class. Your instructor will introduce more complex and challenging poses to push your abilities to the next level.
You can also try a Yoga Flow class in the Vinyasa style. Vinyasa is an energizing method in which yogis flow quickly through a sequence of movements and poses several times. This class gets your heart rate up and sculpts all muscle groups.
Need a break from treadmills? Get your cardio in with, you guessed it: Cardio Yoga. This class uses power yoga moves that get you sweating and torch calories.
Keep in mind that yoga is not competitive or about being the best and pulling off the most dramatic poses. It’s about honoring your body as it is and embracing how it makes you feel.
Touch base with your instructor before class begins so they know your limitations or concerns and can modify moves as needed. Remember to keep plenty of water on hand and take breaks whenever necessary.
Join Cathedral Oaks Athletic Club For the Best Yoga Classes in Goleta
Spreading awareness about yoga is important because it’s not just an exercise. Yoga grounds us back in a world that often forces us to disassociate our consciousness from our physical existence. It’s a practice that allows us to connect to our body and mind in a new, more meaningful way. We offer ten different yoga classes so all our members can access varieties that meet their needs. Visit our club schedule to plan your next yoga adventure!