I'm not going to try to sell you any yoga product, and I have not posted any ad links relating to yoga unless my ad block in the right-hand column automatically suggests some without my knowing it, which it is likely to do per my affiliate agreement. Also, I'm not going to post any yoga links except for the wonderfully illustrative Sun Salutation graphic I borrowed which you can click to help you get started. I have no commercial tie to the web site; I'm just trying to help you enjoy your life and your body more.
Some personal background: When I was in Junior High School back in the 1950s I hurt my back somehow and I thought I would never get over it...and almost never did. Over the years I tried exercises, chiropractors, medicine, the whole gamut, but nothing really solved my problem. At times I'd walk around in a semi-crouch for weeks, in constant pain. "If I'm suffering like this in my youth, what will my life be like when I get old?", I wondered.
Then, after decades of pain, I discovered yoga.
Now, I AM getting old but I get around like a teenager, actually better than some teens. When young people come to my house I sometimes ask them if they are able to touch their toes without bending their knees. Many of them who have never stretched except to pick up a TV remote cannot, and I tell them that I couldn't either when I was their age. Then I stand up, place my palms on the floor, and show them a nice Sun Salutation, which is pictured here.
There's nothing about yoga that is mysterious, and it doesn't have to be taken as a religion or some sort of occult philosophy. Yoga is like a buffet...you take out what you want.
Back when I was smoking, just one one-hour yoga class would help me bring up huge gobs of cigarette crud from my lungs. I could taste air for the first time in years and could feel air in parts of my lungs that I thought had failed to function forever. My blood pressure would go down. I felt relaxed and refreshed, a new man. Little aches disappeared. Now that I think of it I suppose yoga helped me stop smoking.
And I left every class hooked up to a tighter notch in my belt than when I went in.
I discovered that many of the exercises I had been doing at home (read: stomach crunches) were actually causing my back problems and building mass where I didn't want it (stomach). My instructor showed me how some of the same exercises, done properly, work on entirely different muscles to give proper results and relief. I also learned that many of the stretches I had been doing over the years were harming me because I hadn't gone through certain easy warmups first.
There are many types of yoga and many different postures and some may not be right for you. Check with your doctor to be sure. For example, because of a heart problem I can't do aerobic-type yoga. Also, there are still some yoga postures I can't get into, and I guess I just don't want to work that hard. I have found what works for me.
Before you give yoga a try it is very important to find an instructor who will listen to your health history a bit and explain to you the programs which are suitable for you. Done properly, there should never be the slightest pain or discomfort when you are in a yoga posture, but without some instruction before you get started it is possible to hurt yourself. A one-hour class should cost around five dollars and you'll be given a list of poses and postures to do every other night or so for homework.
What I have seen of pilates reminds me a lot of yoga and I suppose its benefits would be similar, but I don't know for sure from personal experience.
What I DO know from personal experience is that yoga can make you feel MUCH younger, breathe better, sleep better, and will help you enjoy your life a lot more. You can't ask for much more than that. Check it out.
-- Dalton Hammond (feeling 16)