Yoga has been around a long time-longer than interval training, Zumba classes, and free weights. But can a consistent and challenging yoga practice really lead to overall body fitness? Many experts say yes. But the good news doesn’t stop there. Not only can you increase and maintain your level of fitness through a yoga practice, you can also become a healthier person. Let’s take a look at some of the specific benefits that yoga practitioners experience.
– Yoga strengthens your muscles-depending on the type of yoga practiced, various poses might be held for several seconds to several minutes-but it also increases your body’s flexibility. Ironically, many gym devotees strengthen their muscles by lifting heavy weights, creating strong short muscles that are more susceptible to injury. Yoga, however, strengthens and stretches; a key component to the creation of injury-resistant muscles.
– The power of yoga lies in the breath. Yoga instructors coach students in their breathing-as they move into, sustain, and move out of each yoga pose. Various types of breathing are taught and practiced. More than anything though, yoga lovers are simply made aware of breath and how important proper breathing is to overall yoga technique and everyday living. They come to understand the power of breath, how to integrate breath to get the most out of each pose and how proper inhalation and exhalation can relieve stress, lower the heart rate and increase lung capacity.
– By practicing this type of breathing, you can also up the amount of oxygen in your system. More oxygen means increased energy levels. The more yoga you do, the more energized you feel.
– Daily yoga practice has a variety of positive health benefits. Researchers have found that yoga, when consistently practiced, can relieve the symptoms of arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome and asthma. Yoga can also bring down high blood pressure and help people manage their weight.
– When you practice yoga regularly and over a sustained period of time, you will experience an increase in your body awareness, diminished stress levels and a fine-tuning of your ability to concentrate.
– Finally, yoga can improve your mood, help you relax and even help you perform better on tests! Yoga often involves unilateral movements (like breathing out of only one nostril at a time) and movements that require students to cross the median line of the body (like touching the left big toe with the right hand). These kinds of movements increase brain activity. More brain activity is a part of better cognitive performance.
As you can see, yoga isn’t just about stretching. It is physically demanding, it can increase your overall fitness and help you mentally. Integrate one or two yoga classes into your weekly calendar, and you will see a tremendous difference in all aspects of your physical being.