Getting Flexible: Five Reasons You Should Practice Yoga

Yoga is an ancient practice that was developed thousands of years ago in India and consists of a series of stretching exercises alongside measured breathing. A regular yoga practice can help increase your core strength and flexibility, as well as make you feel more balanced, serene, and happy. Here are a few reasons that you should consider adding yoga to your fitness routine.

Yoga is an Excellent Workout for Weight Loss

You might not think of yoga as the best way to get in shape, especially if you are usually a fan of high-intensity cardio classes, but yoga is proved to be a healthy way to lose weight and gain strength. There are many different styles of yoga, some more vigorous than others. But while the average yoga class burns about as many calories as a brisk walk, yoga has the unique benefit of putting your body in a parasympathetic state. In a parasympathetic state, the body relaxes and heart rate and blood pressure go down, effectively reducing stress and tension. Because emotional overeating is often triggered by stress, it seems that the relaxing benefits of yoga are twofold in terms of weight loss: healthy activity for the body and a mindset to make better food choices.

Yoga Builds Strength and Flexibility

Yoga is a lot more than just stretching (although this is an extremely important element of yoga, and flexibility and balance are key to the body’s overall health). Many of the common postures, like downward facing dog and plank pose, require a great deal of abdominal and arm strength. Still, there is no need to be intimidated. Almost every yoga pose has modifications, which help strengthen your muscles and increase your endurance, preparing you for the full expression of the posture. Yoga uses mainly body weight, allowing you to get an effective full body workout without the need for a ton of equipment.

Yoga Puts You in Touch with Your Body

Yoga emphasizes the importance of focusing inward and getting in touch with your own body. A lot of yoga classes and workshops begin with the teacher reminding you that you should only push yourself as far as you want to go and that you should be aware and accepting of your body’s unique limitations on that particular day. If you enjoy other forms of sport, yoga can help you become more intuitive about the way your body works, meaning that you’ll be less likely to injure yourself in your other workouts or physical activities. Because some forms of yoga are slow, this will give you the opportunity to focus carefully on what exactly each muscle in your body is doing, allowing you to gain a deeper understanding of your own physique.

Yoga Can Help Improve Your Health Conditions

There are a lot of health conditions that can be dramatically improved by practicing yoga. It can help to relieve the chronic pain of back and neck soreness that can be caused sitting at a computer all day – yoga decreases the tension in your muscles and helps you learn to relax. A consistent yoga practice can also help to improve conditions such as arthritis, poor circulation, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure. It can be adapted so that people with physical disabilities can participate, as yoga can easily be done from a seated position. The breathing exercises can be very healing for those who suffer from asthma. Yoga’s emphasis on listening to your body and doing only what you feel comfortable with means that is an exercise option that anyone can enjoy.

Yoga is Good for Your Mind as well as Your Body

Finally, Yoga has been proven as an activity that helps people who suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. Focusing on your breathing and the way your body is moving can be extremely healing. The fact that yoga can help ease conditions like chronic pain can be a huge relief, emotionally as well as physically. Yoga is also shown to boost endorphins (otherwise known as “happy hormones) in the body, as well as target the autonomic nervous system, which means that the rest of the brain also works better. Although it shouldn’t be seen as a cure for depression, it can definitely be an additional therapy that can be of help on the road to recovery.

No matter whether you’re a person who isn’t used to exercising or you’re an old sports pro, yoga is an activity that can really help you. Try a yoga class at Coastal Fitness, and experience the difference!