On TV are a large number of commercials telling us about the latest fitness products to help us with weight loss, better abs or tone our muscles, it is rare that we hear about yoga, an exercise that has all those benefits and more.
Many think this is just a method to maintain flexibility, something bodybuilding wouldn’t do- the benefits of yoga are wide and go beyond just physical and physiological.
Known as the single biggest benefit of yoga is flexibility. If you’ve ever watched a yoga class, or even looked at some yoga clothing sites, you may be awed by the folding and twisting of yoga practitioners. Yoga can bring a greater range of motion especially in your hamstrings, back shoulder and hips.
The yoga poses, some of which may be held for prolonged periods, also help you build strength and muscle tone. You will also have improved balance as you learn to achieve poses.
Types of pain can be managed with the increased flexibility and strength. Imagine how good it would feel when you stretch after a long drive. Yoga can also help with back pains, shoulder pain and even carpal tunnel pain aside from it’s relaxing benefits.
During yoga you also focus extensively on breathing. Among the benefits to your body, learning how to breathe slower and deeper as you move through a pose. You may feel some light-headedness as you sharpen your breathing technique as your blood carries a better supply of oxygen, so better be ready. It will pass and is likely to occur only during your first few attempts. Controlled breathing can also help you in other ways as it can be used for pain management and stress reduction.
While any exercise carries mental benefits as well as physical, the benefits of yoga come not from endorphins but from concentration and calmness. Concentration on breathing and body positioning is very important in yoga, this is also a good tool for stress reduction and to calm your thoughts. You may find that yoga in the evening helps relax your mind and body for sleep.
Enrolling in a class, buying a video or watching a show is just as easy as beginning to practice yoga. A carpeted area or a yoga mat and loose or flexible clothes are also needed. Whether in a class or alone, pay attention to your body. Use a modification of a pose if you feel pain while attempting it or you can try again once you’ve gained the strength and flexibility for it. Poses will become easier and you’ll find that toga can be a fulfilling way to spend “you” time if you continue to do it.