Stretching Your Body While Stretching Your Money

So your BFF has taken up yoga.

And before long, she seems to be spending a lot of her free time on the mat, and her money on various yoga-related stuff: there’s the $50 yoga pants, the imported magazine subscription, the weekend workshops and yoga holidays, and, of course, those pricey yoga classes.

But with her skin noticeably glowing and her waist considerably shrinking, and as she waxes lyrical on how backbends soften her heart, you begin to wonder, what is it that yoga has that a spinning class – or a relaxing glass of wine after work – doesn’t?

And should you pay a monthly yoga class at a price that could get you three pairs of shoes?

There is, of course, no way to put a price on maintaining your health, which is what yoga ultimately does. This thousands-years-old discipline that originated from India has proven to be beneficial for these reasons:

1. It strengthens and stretches the body, toning your muscles while keeping them long

2. It helps regulate your endocrine and nervous systems, stimulating the hormones and metabolism, and teaching your mind to relax

3. It improves your posture and prevents back pain

4. It heightens your ability to focus

5. It exercises both the body and the mind, which is why it’s a big draw among some of the most stress-prone people.

Many office workers have developed various physical and structural problems by the time they’re in their 30s (some even earlier) because of poor postures, bad diet, and sedentary lifestyles. Back pain, stiff neck, weak knees, gastric problems and chronic migraine are just some of the most common health complaints.

Added to these are what I call the “Weekend Warriors” and “Overtraining Syndromes,” where people maximize their only free time by exercising too much or try to lose weight fast, resulting most of the time in injuries.

Like any other illness, an injury means a loss of productivity and money. Often, it requires a physical therapy or sports massage, which, unfortunately, is often not covered by health insurance, and an additional cost.

A good and mindful practice of yoga can save you from these problems by keeping your body healthy and strong, and your mind calm and centered. Studies have shown that a lot of physical illnesses originated in the mind.

Compared to other exercises, yoga is a relatively costly workout, especially in dedicated yoga studios. A drop-in yoga class in a good studio in Jakarta typically costs between US$ 12-15 US, though the price lowers if you pay them in a package.

But here’s how you can maximize your investment:

1. At dedicated yoga studios, buy the classes in a package. Aside from being cheaper, it’ll motivate you to keep coming. Choose the one most suitable with your schedule. Maybe start with 10-packages first, which is usually good for two months or more, instead of buying the monthly-unlimited one.

2. If you still want to do other exercises, enroll in a gym that also offers a good variety of yoga classes. Word of caution: health clubs don’t always provide the best setting for yoga classes because of the lack of teacher’s attention and the gym-goers’ competitive approach in the yoga room. Stay mindful of your body’s limitation.

3. Look for yoga communities. For example, in Jakarta, every Sunday morning  Social Yoga Club offers a free class in a park (donation only).

4. Deepen your practice with yoga books or DVDs

5. Practice by yourself. The discipline of yoga is really a personal practice. Once you’ve learned the basic, cultivate a regular self-practice at home.

Yoga is more than physical health.  As you develop a consistent practice, your life typically begins to change in a positive way. You become more mindful in the way you practice, eat and act. This could be the most valuable investment you ever make in your life.

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