It’s hard to go a week without encountering a new study touting the health benefits of practising yoga: It improves your bone density, it staves off age-related cognitive decline, it helps inflammation, it reduces depression. Catalina Moraga, who co-owns Spirit Loft Movement & Yoga Centre in Toronto, doesn’t discount those benefits, though she’s always cautious about presenting yoga as a panacea. Instead, she emphasizes yoga’s transformative effect on mobility and awareness. “It’s a great counter to our sedentary culture — the hunched shoulders and tech neck,” Moraga says. “When we’re in a posture, we focus on spine stabilizers, creating space between our vertebrae, bringing our spine into a healthier position and retraining ourselves to be upright.”
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So regardless of how much air you can get on your side crow, focus on the fact that just by showing up regularly, you develop strength and stability in the glutes and abdominal muscles and learn to bear more weight in your hands, shoulders and arms. “That restores all sorts of movement possibilities, from picking up the kids, to carrying groceries, to being able to get up and down from the floor,” Moraga says. And while data fitness lets you monitor progress in minute detail, yoga offers a reprieve from that kind of relentless tracking. “It’s not like competitiveness won’t arise in a yoga class, and movement does become smoother with practice, but it’s more a process of self-discovery — rather than how many sun salutations you can do in 10 minutes.”
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Those ropes that dangle from the wall of the studio? They’re used in Iyengar yoga and can help support you in difficult and less familiar postures, especially ones, like headstands, that involve hanging upside down.
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