There is a yoga boom in Kenya and rightly so. New research is coming out from all corners of the world validating this ancient practice’s immense health benefits. Personally I started doing yoga in 2009 and I can tell you that it is life-changing, for the better.

First of all, yoga is not a religion, nor a cult. It is a physical practice just like going to the gym, but only better and also has mental benefits that you can’t necessarily get with any other work out. There is a huge misconception about yoga but as people use science and experiences instead of hearsay and rumors, they start to appreciate this practice albeit coming from a different culture.

standing bow pose yoga

What is Yoga?

Yoga means to yoke or to connect. You connect your breath to physical movements (poses) and also to this moment right now – which is also very closely related to meditation. You also learn to be calm, even when doing intense poses, which to me is one of the best things about yoga.

Yoga is also a great strength training routine. Using gravity, body weight and the poses you build muscle, increase bone density, without the harsh side effects of lifting gym weights. The last time I went to a gym I was fatigued and aching for a week, never happens with yoga when done right.

Why Yoga

Yes like any other exercise, yoga has to be done right lest you might injure yourself or not get the several benefits of the work out. Many gym trainers will often push you to the limit and beyond. No pain no gain being their mantra. In yoga, it is the direct opposite. You are your own trainer, perse. In my favorite teacher’s class, there are usually three other people practicing with him. One of them is for modifications of various poses. If you feel that the pose might be too much, you modify and do something you cannot. If you feel like having a break, you are even encouraged to do that, just 5 minutes of yoga, even 2 minutes can be a great way to start and relax your way to wellness.

I started doing yoga because I saw it as a great stretching exercise since I am a runner, I was very stiff I could not even sit comfortably in a cross-legged position…which I can do now with ease.

Yoga and meditation also helps me to make wiser decisions especially when it comes to do with food. I was ‘addicted’ to eating more dessert than I needed, which affected my quality of sleep which was not cool. With intensified yoga and meditation in the evening, I quickly took control of my food cravings, which can be very helpful to people who want to lose weight.

The physical stuff is great, but it is the mental benefits that are to celebrate. Yoga is indeed a meditation, which have been proven to be of great value matters brain health, going by this latest Harvard study on meditation. In the study, scientists, using state of the art MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging) scans  proved that meditation actually rebuilds the brain grey matter in 8 weeks. This part of the brain is associated with learning, memory, compassion and emotions.

Last year I lost my niece to a short illness. Yoga and meditation helped me a lot to be emotionally stable and mentally strong. One of the best things you can do for yourself.