When it comes to maintaining basic overall health, there are two points that have been seemingly drilled into all of us since a young age as a guide in order to achieve just that: eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. And while everybody eats, and thus, it is a little (but not much) easier to control one’s diet, when it comes to regular exercise, this is where people normally falter.
While it would be easy to list off all the reasons for a person not to exercise such as not having enough time, not having enough energy, or simply because it is too difficult, instead, we would like to suggest an alternative; one that is thousands of years old and seems to be growing in popularity daily – yoga.
Yoga is something that most, if not everybody has heard of, however, as a low impact and highly effective form of exercise, it often gets overlooked. So why should you consider this ancient and powerful practice?
“The purpose of yoga is to create strength, awareness, and harmony in both the mind and body,” explains Natalie Nevins, DO, a board-certified osteopathic family physician and certified Kundalini Yoga instructor in Hollywood, California. “As an osteopathic physician, I focus a lot of my efforts on preventive medicine and practices, and in the body’s ability to heal itself,” says Dr. Nevins. “Yoga is a great tool for staying healthy because it is based on similar principles.”
So what are the some of the benefits of yoga?
“The relaxation techniques incorporated in yoga can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome,” explains Dr. Nevins. “Yoga can also lower blood pressure and reduce insomnia.”
From a physical standpoint, some of the benefits of yoga include:
-Increased muscle strength and tone
-Improved respiration, energy and vitality
-Maintaining a balanced metabolism
-Cardio and circulatory health
-Improved athletic performance
-Protection from injury
And while the physical benefits of yoga are many, it would be unjust to not give credit to the mental benefits as well. “Stress can reveal itself in many ways, including back or neck pain, sleeping problems, headaches, drug abuse, and an inability to concentrate,” says Dr. Nevins. “Yoga can be very effective in developing coping skills and reaching a more positive outlook on life.”
“Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness; increases body awareness; relieves chronic stress patterns; relaxes the mind; centers attention, and sharpens concentration,” says Dr. Nevins. Body- and self-awareness are particularly beneficial, she adds, “because they can help with early detection of physical problems and allow for early preventive action.”
As we hope now that the benefits of yoga are clear, we completely understand that it doesn’t alleviate some of the problems like being too busy. However, if you are in fact, too busy for yoga, then in all likelihood, you are also long overdue for a vacation. So why not do yourself a favor and book yourself a trip that involves the best of both world; why don’t you book yourself a yoga retreat? And the best part is that you don’t even have to leave the country in order to experience some of the best in the world.
In case you are on the fence, in which case we suggest you reread the above, however, if you are convinced, then keep reading to discover some of the most beautiful, tranquil, relaxing and ultimately healing places in the country. And rest assured, whether you book for a day, or book for a week, you will likely leave these places feeling the better for coming.
The West Coast is well known for its relaxed attitude and relatively new age thinking, which makes it the perfect spot for a yoga retreat. And when you throw in stunning views of Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean, then the White Lotus Foundation mountain retreat center is hard to beat. Located on 40 acres, you can select from a campsite surrounded by natural beauty, a yurt, or indoor accommodations with more modern amenities. There are at least six different retreats throughout the year, which provide several days of activities, yoga, breathing exercises, and more to relax.
Many visitors choose to combine their yoga retreats with other workshops and classes, such as Thai massage and most also include meditation. Gourmet vegetarian meals are included in all of the programs and attendees can explore the grounds at their leisure as well. There, they will find swimming holes, secluded places perfect for isolated reflection, spring water, and hiking trails to explore.
A standard day the White Lotus Foundation would include a morning hike or meditation, breakfast, some yoga, lunch, free time for exploring or resting, more yoga, dinner, and the evening program. If you are looking for unique spiritual retreats in and around Santa Barbara, weekend yoga retreats start at $650.