Why You Should Try Yoga

Here in the SF Bay Area, it almost seems you can’t walk or drive 100 feet without passing a yoga studio. We are truly in a mecca of options when it comes to where we want to practice yoga, with whom we want to practice it, and what type of yoga we want to practice.

For a seasoned yogi, this plethora of options is heaven, but for those of us interested in dipping our toe into a new practice, it can feel overwhelming. Where do we start? What’s the difference between all these different types of yoga? What are all these words I’ve never heard before? Hatha? Iyengar? Anusara? Vinyasa? Bikram?

health benefits of yoga

Yoga by meredyn at Deviant Art, image sourced through Creative Commons

Why Try Yoga?

If you’ve been curious about yoga and want to know if it’s right for you, consider this: the Mayo Clinic describes yoga as the perfect activity to fight stress, get fit, and stay healthy. Yoga is a mind-body practice that integrates movement, flexibility, breath work, and meditation to create a feeling of physical, spiritual, and emotional balance.

While there is not a specific religion tied to yogic practice, many people find that the quiet nature of most types of yoga allow for them to tap into whatever spiritual place they hold personally important. Members of all creeds and religions can enjoy the health benefits of yoga, mind, body and spirit, and tap into their inner selves in addition to building a strong physical foundation.

Hatha yoga in Japanese @ Semperviva photo sourced from flickr

Hatha yoga in Japanese @ Semperviva photo sourced from flickr

Health Benefits of Yoga

Yoga is a great way to reduce stress. The stillness in the room, the gentle instruction of the teacher, and the release of physical tension from muscles and joints all contribute to stress release and encouraging stillness of mind. As part of the hustle and bustle of today’s workforce, we know all too well what stress feels like. What we might not know is that stress is a root cause of so many other chronic conditions. Yoga can help with those too:

Yoga can help reduce risk factors for chronic diseases, such as heart disease and high blood pressure. Yoga might also help alleviate chronic conditions, such as depression, pain, anxiety and insomnia. (Mayo Clinic)

Certain practices call for mantras or other forms of group call and response that can contribute to stress reduction as well.

Yoga strengthens and can prevent injury. Because yoga requires balance, strength, range of motion, and flexibility, it can serve as protection against potential injury both at work and at home. You might find yourself in a pose standing on one foot, which strengthens all of the muscles and tendons in your ankles — preventing a rolled ankle in day to day life, or even in another activity like a friendly basketball game. You might find yourself lengthening your lower back in certain poses, or twisting to release tension across the back, preventing low-back injury or even alleviating pain. There are countless other examples like these and any number of ways to modify each pose to accommodate injury or lack of flexibility.

health benefits of yoga

How do I get started?

Lucky for you, as part of the AHS Healthy Me! Wellness program, we offer a number of yoga classes through out the system, and community members are welcome to join in! These classes are perfect for beginners and yogis alike. Our attentive and seasoned instructors are eager to make these classes as beneficial as possible for each attendee, so please give it a try. Here’s the schedule:

Mondays Tuesdays Wednesdays Thursdays
San Leandro Hospital Alameda Hospital Highland Hospital San Leandro Hospital San Leandro Hospital Alameda Hospital
2nd floor classroom Room C B2 Sun Room Education Center Education Center Room C
5:45pm 5:30pm 3:30pm 5:30pm 5:30pm 5:30pm
FREE for everyone FREE for employees, $6/class for community members or $40/8 classes FREE for everyone FREE for everyone Suggested donation of $10, no one will be turned away FREE for employees, $6/class for community members or $40/8 classes
Class limit of 12 Class limit of 20 Class limit of 10 Class limit of 25 Class limit 25 Class limit of 20

To learn more about the different types of yoga, check out this great article from the folks at Gaiam Life.


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