Yoga has many proven health benefits including everything from assisting in the reduction of stress, to increasing alertness and awareness, to improving memory and reducing depressive symptoms. From our experience at Open Sky, students with ADHD (attention deficient hyperactivity disorder), depression, anxiety, anger issues, control issues, and body image challenges are well suited to gain from the many benefits of a yoga practice. Also, many of our students comment that yoga has taught them about their body's inherent gifts and abilities and that it enables them to relax and be present with what their body is experiencing.
Students at Open Sky practice yoga about 4 times per week, with each session lasting around 20 minutes. Our staff guides students in yoga designed to meet them where they're at; our yoga is gentle and healing.
Learn More About Yoga and its Application at Open Sky:
- Encouraging Self-Awareness & Self-Control
- Yoga Research Conclusions
- Yoga at Open Sky
- A Brief History
- Yoga at Home
"During the past 80 years, health professionals in India and the West have begun to investigate the therapeutic potential of yoga. To date, thousands of research studies have been undertaken and have shown that with the practice of yoga a person can, indeed, learn to control such physiologic parameters as blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory function, metabolic rate, skin resistance, brain waves, body temperature, and many other bodily functions."
"The heart of yoga is spirituality, best defined as the process of self-awareness, self-discovery, and self-realization."
A yoga practice provides skills in developing self-awareness and self-regulation: essential abilities that encourage a vibrant, healthy human existence. Yoga is a great way to learn to be present in one’s physical, emotional, and sensory experience. This increased self-awareness provides a stepping-stone for increased self-control. Positive self-control assists students in learning to appropriately and effectively cope with challenging life circumstances. We believe that yoga and meditation, along with instruction from field guides in day-to-day challenges and personal interactions, aids students in learning how to handle difficulties in a much more effective and successful manner.
- Promotes relaxation in the brain and better connection to emotion by increasing alpha and theta waves
- Increases endorphins, enkaphalins, and serotonin
- Reduces the stress hormone (cortisol)
- Reduces depressive symptoms
- Reduces anxiety symptoms
- Decreases cognitive problems
- Focuses and alerts the mind
- Stimulates the pituitary gland to release endorphins
- Stimulates peripheral glandular system that produces adrenaline and norepenephrin-type compounds that stimulate the brain
- Improves memory
- Improves visual perception
- Treats OCD
- Treats seasonal affect disorder
- Decreases physical pain
- Reduces body weight and blood pressure
- Improves lung functioning
- Decreases autonomic arousal
- Reduces heart rate and respiratory rate
- Increases somatic steadiness
- Calms body
- Reduce muscle tension and stiffness
- Increases oxygen
- Increases muscle power
Contrary to popular belief, yoga is not about attaining a particular physical position as much as it is about strengthening and stretching muscles, being present in one’s body, and relaxing the mind and body. At Open Sky, our students participate in yoga on a daily basis because we have found that this encourages healing, reduces depression and anxiety and settles even the most hyperactive or angst-filled student. Each student will learn the basic aspects to beginning a yoga practice. Our yoga practice is intended to provide a great foundation to prepare students for the rigors of living in the outdoors and to prevent injury while carrying a heavy pack across arduous terrain. Lastly, at Wellness Weekends, parents are introduced to yoga and are provided an opportunity to participate in a beginner’s yoga class.
Although yoga has many aspects, our students receive basic training in physical postures (Asanas) and breathing (Pranayama). These two components provide great tools for stretching and strengthening as well as learning to relax and rejuvenate the body, mind and heart.
A body position, typically associated with the practice of Yoga, intended primarily to restore and maintain a practitioner's well-being, improve the body's flexibility and vitality, and promote the ability to remain in seated meditation for extended periods. These are widely known as Yoga postures, or Yoga positions, which is currently practiced for exercise and as alternate medicine.
- Feuerstein, Georg (1996). The Shambhala Guide to Yoga. Shambhala Publications, Boston. pp. 26
A Sanskrit word meaning "lengthening of the prana or breath". The word is composed of two Sanskrit words, Prāna, life force, or vital energy, particularly, the breath, and "āyāma", to suspend or restrain. It is often translated as control of the life force (prana).
- "Regulation of breath or the control of Prana" — Sivananda, Swami, The Science of Pranayama. Divine Life Society, (1971). Available online as: The Science of Pranayama by Sri Swami Sivananda
- "Pranayama (control of prana, subtle life currents)" — Yogananda, Paramahansa, Autobiography of a Yogi, 2005, ISBN 978-1565892125
- "Pranayama, then, means energy control." — Kriyananda, Swami, Art and Science of Raja Yoga. Crystal Clarity Publishers (2002) ISBN 978-1565891661
- "Pranayama, or controlling the vital forces of the body" — Vivekenanada, Swami, Raja Yoga. Bharatiya Kala
Yoga is a physical and spiritual practice that is over 5,000 years old. Earliest archaeological evidence of yoga's existence could be found in stone seals that depict figures of yoga poses.
Where Yoga Comes From
There are petroglyphic images of men sitting in lotus pose that date back 2,500 years. The rich stew of Indian theology has simmered together from Vedic, Hindu and Buddhist traditions, to create a flavorful melody of teachings and wisdom.
In approximately 200 BCE, the "Father of Yoga", Patanjali, added his contribution. The Yoga Sutras outline the eight limbs of classical Yoga, or Ashtanga Yoga, and were written in the form and style of traditional Indian Philosophy.
Patanjali divided his 195 short aphorisms into four chapters for study. The sutras are poetry, each word carries considerable weight. The word sutra means "thread", and the “threads” of thought were to be memorized by the student, pondered, chewed on and assimilated. Ultimately, the student will weave a tapestry of enlightenment and the practice of union with the transcendent.
What We Call Yoga Today
Followers of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are practicing Ashtanga or Raja (Royal) yoga, of which there are several different branches. Historically, Hindu tradition divided the paths of yoga into intellectual, emotional or physical paths or “margas”: Jñana, Bhakti, and Karma. In approximately 15th century CE, Swatmarama wrote the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (Hatha means force, or determined effort).
B.K.S. Iyengar popularized Hatha yoga in the West through his use of props and tools and precise descriptions of the various poses, making them more accessible.
Yoga is not about pushing your limits in unusual postures and stressful physical positions but is about strengthening the body, awakening one’s energy, and being present to one’s physical abilities and possibilities. There are thousands of postures and exercises that constitute a yoga practice and all have validity. Whether you are looking for vigorous strengthening or serene relaxation, there is a yoga practice that will suit you. Luckily, there are a lot of resources out there to get you started – bookstores, websites, classes, CDs and DVDs. We have listed a few websites below that might be helpful at first. A quick search for yoga studios online will also provide you local classes to support your research. We encourage you to talk with teachers first to assist you in getting the right class to meet your intentions for a beginning yoga practice.