Test Your Yoga IQ!

Saturday, July 09, 2011 | 0 comments »

By Stan Malihee

Yoga is gaining popularity across the country, but especially in Southern California. When I first moved out here, people would ask me if I did yoga, and I would always reply with a favorite joke: "I'd try yoga, but I'm afraid I would levitate into a ceiling fan." Then one day Tony Horton stopped by Beachbody Headquarters and offered a free yoga class to all interested employees. Ninety minutes and 40 gallons of sweat later, I was totally converted, and now I truly believe in the tremendous powers of this ancient practice. How much do you know about yoga?
  1. False: Yoga is approximately 3,000 years old. Although the specific year the practice began is under debate, the Yoga Sutras—a Sanskrit collection of works written by Patanjali—date back to more than 5,000 years ago. To give you a perspective on how far into history that is, back then America wasn't even the best country on Earth yet.
  2. True: Yoga consists of what are referred to as "the eight limbs." Yoga is believed to be made up of eight limbs: the asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), dharana (concentration), dhyani (meditation), yamas (restraints), prayahara (withdrawal of senses), niyamas (observances), and samadhi (absorption). Hmmm . . . eight limbs, postures, breathing, concentration, meditation, restraints, withdrawal of senses, observances, absorption . . . sounds like my prom night!
  3. True: Basketball superstar LeBron James does yoga. The star forward has had a highly successful and predominantly injury-free career in the NBA thus far, and James himself attributes some of that to his practice of yoga. Additionally, 11-time NBA champion head coach Phil Jackson is a proponent of the practice. And that's saying something. This is a dude who, when he wants to wear all of his championship rings at once, has one for every finger on both hands, and has to wear one on his toe. (Or at least I hope that's where he wears it!)
  4. False: Yoga is risk free. I have a friend who hurt her back while transitioning out of the "upward dog" position, and her doctor told her that many of the injuries he sees are from yoga. So, like anything else, if it has the power to strengthen you, it also has the power to hurt you if done improperly. But everything in life involves risk, so don't let that stop you. Yoga is a wonderful exercise that can have enormous benefits. After all, if it's good enough for Tony Horton, LeBron James, and more than 5,000 years of avid practitioners, it's good enough for anyone who takes his or her health seriously. And that's no joke.