When Sasha Greenberg moved to New York City from Israel to pursue her modeling career, the constant hustle of city life, her long work hours, late nights out, and a major change in the foods she ate in the US from her Mediterranean diet, were a lot for her body to get used to. So, she began looking for an easy way to exercise and move her body to stay fit. That’s when she discovered yoga.
In NYC, there were lots of great yoga studios and very inspiring teachers to learn from, she says. Plus, you could rent a yoga mat for a few dollars and classes were very affordable. It was not long before she started experiencing the health benefits of yoga.
“I started to notice all the mindfulness that yoga was bringing into my life without having realized that I was probably missing that kind of practice all this time,” Greenberg said.
“When I would travel and get super busy with my work, and neglect my yoga practice, I would notice what it would do to my mental state and mood. Living in a stressful place like New York City, the value of yoga was something that I could not give up.”
She went on to complete over 200 hours of yoga training in Miami Beach and become a certified Health and Wellness Coach. Since 2017, Greenberg has been teaching yoga to groups and private clients with her mission of “bringing people closer to integrating their inner and outer worlds, moving their bodies and expanding consciousness.”
The History of Yoga
Yoga is a practice that dates back thousands of years. Even the Eighth-Limbs path of Royal (Raja) yoga method that Greenberg’s teaching is based upon is a 5,000-year-old tradition.
As she explained to me, there are many different paths people can choose to practice yoga, and it can look different depending on which part of the world you are in. In the Western World, we mostly think about yoga in terms of poses that we see. While in the Eastern World, yoga is just a way of life.
“On some paths you never go through any kind of warrior one or two or sun salutation,” Greenberg says. “For example, people who practice yoga of devotion, devote their life to doing good deeds for other people as yoga. They practice by living their lives in a very mindful and conscious way.”
Royal yoga is what spoke to her most because it’s a set system originating from a sacred book.
It starts with things like cleanliness—cleaning our thoughts, the physical body, and eating healthy foods, as well as thinking about our actions on a morally. These things combined with the physical practice of yoga, allow you to be able to sit in stillness and dive deeper into meditation.
Benefits of Yoga
Whichever type of practice you choose, there are many physical and mental health benefits of yoga, as Greenberg quickly learned. “Start with a safe and fundamental practice of yoga now and most of the things you do in your younger years, you’ll be able to do when you’re older, if you practice consistently!” she says.
The Physical Benefits of Yoga
- Increases muscular strength and make your frame stronger
- Increases physical energy levels
- Aides in digestion
- Increases balance and flexibility—important for longevity and vitality
“Working on flexibility of our spine is one of the most anti-aging things we can do,” she says.
The Mental Health Benefits of Yoga
- Calms down the mind to relax it
- Decreases anxiety and stress
- Provides a sense of well-being and better moods
- Increases mental energy
“We are living in such a different world from our parents and definitely than our ancestors. Everything is very fast—our minds are often racing, as we are constantly checking emails or messages,” Greenberg says. “Any kind of practice helps us to disconnect from devices and just simply slow down makes people feel amazing. You should see how amazing people feel after a yoga class when they have been disconnected from their phone for an hour.”
3 Tips to Begin Your Yoga Practice
Start very small
You can start by doing yoga for five minutes a day or just doing cat and cow poses, or staying in child’s pose. That’s all you need sometimes to switch your day, Greenberg says.
Set up a reasonable goal
Before choosing a practice, check in with yourself and decide what’s realistically achievable in your busy life, Greenberg says. Maybe seven days a week isn’t reasonable, but committing to three days is, so choose that.
“I believe that if you don’t have the time, meditate for one minute, but try your best for this one minute. It’s better than doing it for a half hour and being completely distracted,” Greenberg says. “Any amount of time will make you feel much better because it will give your busy mind a break.”
Consistency is defined by whatever it looks like to you. Even if it’s one day a week, long as you are committed to that and doing your best while practicing, that’s consistency, she says.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic millennials have continued to look for ways to alleviate the many stresses placed upon our lives, Greenberg tells me they should look no further before giving yoga a try.
“When people are looking for some ways to improve their life, it’s very easy to look on the outside and try to buy something, whichever product—medication or treatments that may be very expensive—to make us feel great but nothing is instant and quick or can go as deep as our own personal practice,” Greenberg says.
“Remember, yoga can literally be done for free or at a very low cost, and thanks to the internet, it’s now available to everyone to feel great.”
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