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Yoga and Women

Yoga is an awesome way to build your strength and your sense of serenity. It's also a terrific work out to do with a buddy or a sister or even your mom. You may share a good laugh or the best stretch you've ever had, nationally registered yoga teacher Deborah Dougherty tells FoodFit.

FoodFit: Can you explain the benefits of yoga, particularly for women?
Most of us are first attracted to yoga through the asanas (the physical practice). These movements provide release from tension, build flexibility/ balance as well as strength and endurance. And of course the final relaxation (Savasana) period at the end of each class offers a deep sense of peace.

You receive from yoga what you bring to your practice. If you focus on the asanas (what we refer to as being in the moment), suspend judgment (of yourself and others) and center (mind, body and spirit) using your breath you may have a life transforming experience.

Think of yoga as an onion—each layer leading closer to the sweet center (in yoga this is the Atman or Self). It's interesting that we move through the layers not by effort but through acceptance and release. These are not concepts easy for the Western mind to accept.
FoodFit: Yoga seems to be physical activity that women of all ages can enjoy. Is this so and why?
Whether you are 9 or 90, yoga has something to offer. There are thousands of yoga ananas (poses). Many yoga poses can be practiced seated in a chair as well on the floor, while other poses would challenge an Olympic athlete. Other than a yoga mat for safety, there is no special equipment needed and it's always with you. I like to teach everyone a 10-minute routine called "Good Morning Yoga" that can easily be done in bed. You would be surprised at the mood altering effects produced by a few early morning stretches.

A good teacher will modify the poses to reach each student at their level. If you try a class and it doesn't work for you try another. One of the best resources to locate a teacher or class is MAYA (Mid-Atlantic Yoga Association) other areas of the country may also have local associations.

The key thing to remember is not to judge yourself—don't "should" on yourself!
FoodFit: What do you think a mother and daughter might get out of taking a yoga class together?
A wonderful shared experience and a new foundation for their relationship. Because the path of yoga is a spiritual one, each person is given equal respect.

When I watch people interact in class I see generations relating as equals. There is nothing better than a partners' yoga class (yoga done with the help of a partner) to break down our barriers; this allows each of us to share what we have learned. Sometimes we are sharing the best stretch of our lives, sometimes we share a good laugh.


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