Health & Fitness » Vol. 46

Yoga: The world’s most flexible workout

Yoga has long been touted as a healer of chronic conditions, a stress reliever and a fitness and flexibility booster. According to Christine Chen, author of Happy-Go-Yoga, stress is the next big health crisis. Study after study has proved that practicing yoga can improve brain function, sleep and inflammation in the spine. However, many Americans still resist the idea of yoga.

Perhaps there is still a stigma associated with yoga; that it’s for earthy, crunchy, tree-hugging hippies who gather at juice bars to discuss the benefits of veganism. Or maybe the prospect of awkwardly bending yourself into a pretzel in a room full of sweaty supermodels scares you away. But these ideas are far from accurate. The truth is most people suck at yoga when they first try it, including Chen, who admits she could do just 20 percent of the class when she started. You can come up with a dozen reasons to reject yoga: You think it’s too hard or you just can’t find the time, a place you like or the money in your budget. However, yoga can be done almost anywhere, anytime – at home, at work, on an airplane and even at the bar (seriously, keep reading). 2 (2)Chen designed her advice specifically for those on the go – literally; the book is light and compact for easy transport. Yoga saved Chen from a lifetime of debilitating back pain, and she maintains her health by incorporating simple moves into her everyday routine. Chen won’t instruct you to Downward Dog while waiting for the bus; instead, her advice is “a collection of poses based on real yoga and real health information with a big dose of real life.” In other words, anyone can do it anytime and anywhere. Try Eagle Twist on the plane, Spine Align while sitting at your desk or Surf It while vacuuming the house. There are even moves to help you relax in crowded spaces. No seats on the train? No problem. Have a Seat against the wall and tighten your tush as you commute. Chen even offers ways to incorporate yoga while spending time with family or your significant other.BarStoolYoga (2)

Still skeptical you can fit yoga in your life anywhere, anytime? Head to the bar – and bring Miriam Austin’s Bar Stool Yoga along with you. In it, Austin embraces the idea of “social yoga” in a fun, yet serious way. Each of the 40 yoga poses in the book are named after a cocktail (and include a recipe for a post-workout drink to match) and are photographed in a variety of bars, demonstrating how to use a barstool to your advantage. If that seems too silly for you, Austin includes an at-home version.

If you’re embarrassed or intimidated by crowds, try the moves by yourself and in the comfort of your own home. Chen encourages doubters to try just one pose and see where it leads. Whether that’s to a longer home routine, your first yoga class or even the local pub, the benefits will follow.

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