Nike leggings and outfits have been long used for doing yoga but you might be surprised to know that Nike hasn't actually ever designed yoga-specific products, until now. This month, the sports company released their yoga collection, specifically designed for the activity. The campaign is diverse, including male models and people of color, which is a nice change since these groups tend to lack a lot of representation within the yoga community.
Despite originating from Asia, yoga has long been considered a "white practice" and usually one only reserved for women. But yoga can and is for everyone, including black men and women and just like in everything else, visibility is important for these groups. Yoga is considered a personal journey but having people that you can connect with in background and culture can definitely help you on your journey, especially if you're just starting out. If that's you, check out some of these yogis for inspiration.
On top of using a more diverse set of models in skin tone and gender, Nike's campaign is different in that it's not approaching the practice of yoga as a lifestyle but instead as a workout tool for athletes of other sports. Traditionally, yoga is considered a way of life. It's as much a spiritual and mental journey as it is a physical one. Nike is preferring to focus more on the latter part which is fine because there are many physical benefits to the practice, no matter how you choose to approach it. Some of the top benefits include:
- Strength: It may not seem like it but it actually takes a good amount of strength to hit certain yoga poses. Obviously we don't encourage anyone to go out and try to hit a taraksvasana pose (look it up) right from the get go but if you want to build strength, yoga can definitely help you achieve it.
- Balance: Balance is a key aspect of any sport and to achieve balance, you need a strong core. Yoga is ALL about building your core because again, you need it to achieve most poses.
- Mobility: No matter if you're weight training, playing football, practicing yoga, or just going grocery shopping, mobility is incredibly important to prevent injury. Especially if you build more muscle, you want to ensure that you're not becoming stiff as that will very quickly lead to getting hurt. Yoga can help you accomplish the right amount of flexibility so that you can prevent that.
- Concentration: The intention behind yoga is to accomplish clarity and balance within yourself which is why the practice is so meditative. Just like any sport, you can't do it well if your mind is bogged up with distractions. Yoga is a great way to practice concentration and focus, which you can use for your sport or just for life in general.
Whether Nike's campaign has inspired you to start yoga as a way to improve in your sport, or you're just more interested in the spirituality of the practice, there are many ways to start. Because yoga has become so popular, it probably won't take a lot of looking for you to find classes in your area. In fact, there might even be too many options. There are so many variations on yoga: hot yoga, yin yoga, restorative yoga, kundalini yoga…the list goes on. If you're not sure where to start, it can be good to just go out and try as many styles as you can since that's the only true way to know which kind really speaks to you. If cost is an issue, you might be able to find discount or even free community classes offered by places such as Lululemon or a small, local studio with some online searching. Alternatively, there are also tons of sites where you can find free online classes and videos so that you can do it from the comfort of your own home. Of course, if you're trying it out by yourself, be extra careful not to harm yourself while trying to practice it. You probably won't have the flexibility or strength of the instructor but that's completely okay. Don't hesitate to use yoga props such as blocks, straps, chairs, pillows, or bolsters to help you achieve certain poses. These props are meant you help you achieve the poses in a safe way. Remember, the point of yoga is to protect yourself from injury, not to cause it!
Don't feel discouraged if you're just starting out because there's a community out there for you. The most important thing is just to go out and start. Nike may have just come on to the yoga scene, but they're starting out strong and bold. Know that you can too!