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Take a deep breath. Now another, and even a third. If you’re like most people, this may be the first time all day that you’ve thought about your breathing – a sign that in our culture, stress runs rampant and even a thirty-second reprieve from your busy day is a rare treat. But some individuals in the Sacramento community have tuned in to ancient techniques that yogis, monks and spiritual individuals have been practicing for centuries – yoga and meditation. With studios throughout the Sacramento area, it is not difficult to find an amazing teacher eager to share his or her knowledge.
So, you may be asking: some deep stretching, some breathing and sitting cross-legged while staring at a blank wall for a couple of hours – what in the world could this do for me, and why would I possibly want to devote my precious time to doing, well, nothing?
If you've watched someone else practice yoga and thought, there’s no way that all that stretching does anything for your body – think again. The benefits of yoga are both mental and physical, improving everything from digestion to circulation and helping with depression, anxiety and insomnia, to name a few. On a fitness level, the more gentle forms of yoga are great for improving flexibility and can even be utilized by the elderly or people recovering from an injury, when done correctly and carefully. More difficult types of yoga help to stretch and tone the muscles, and can even burn calories to help you lose weight. And, of course, a major purpose of yoga is to prepare the body for meditation.
Like yoga, meditation has many benefits and can be used for many purposes, depending on your goal. Whether you consider yourself religious or not, virtually anybody can use meditation as a stress-relief technique. Meditation isn’t a religion in itself, so it can be useful for people who already follow a particular religious doctrine and are looking to deepen their practice, or by someone who has no interest in religion whatsoever. Going beyond relaxation, meditation can also be a powerful and transformational tool for someone looking for a spiritual path -- it's really up to you, and your particular goals.
Creating a Community
Like any other activity – from jogging to dining – yoga and mediation become more powerful when practiced with others, at least occasionally. So, what are your experiences with yoga and/or meditation? Where in the Sacramento community have you learned either of these techniques, and would you recommend these locations to others? Are there reasons that prevent you from trying either of these techniques? Would you like to create a community where you could share what you’ve learned with others, perhaps in your own neighborhood?