Yoga is an ancient form of exercise which places great focus on flexibility, strength and breathing to benefit both the mental and the physical well being of the individual. The key components of yoga are various different postures and positions (movements designed to increase the body’s fitness levels, strength and flexibility) alongside useful breathing work which can also help to reduce stress. Yoga is now a common form of exercise taking place in many yoga centers, clubs, schools and surgeries to benefit both men and women, young and old alike.
Various research and scientific trials done on yoga have found that it can be a brilliant method to relieve stress, improve flexibility and strength as well as balance. Furthermore, there is some evidence stating that taking part in regular yoga practices is useful for those with high blood pressure, aches and pains within the body and depression. Although this form of exercise is not strenuous enough to count towards your weekly 150 minutes of exercise, it does count as a strengthening exercise which is recommended to be completed around twice per week.
Simply using yoga for 30 minutes per day can help to improve the body’s balance and reduce the risk of falls in older participants, while also improving co-ordination. Not only does yoga aid in preventing falls it can also reduce symptoms of arthritis, while increasing mobility in those who suffer chronically. Find a teacher who is experienced in arthritis, decreased mobility and perhaps even a lack of balance and can therefore adapt certain positions for optimum benefits for sufferers. Those of all fitness levels can join yoga, meaning as long as you find the correct teacher or program for yourself and ability you can join in! Some yoga classes are even chair based, perfect for those with a lack of normal movement such as the elderly.
With yoga-related injuries being rare or uncommon, this exercise is relatively safe for even the most clumsiest of people! Although some problems may be caused by over or under stretching, when listening to a trained professional this is unlikely to occur as they should teach proper warm up and warming down. It is highly recommended to start yoga by taking classes allowing you to become properly acquainted with the poses and breathing techniques correctly. If you do not learn these poses and positions correctly, executing them regularly may cause pain and injury in the long-term. Start off with a class to learn the basics and then progress to a DVD if you’re lacking the time or money to continue! But really, the most fun and safest way to practise yoga is via a class where you can socialise and learn new things each session -trust us!
So, now you’ve learnt about the benefits of yoga and how to practice, let’s look more in depth about what even 30 minutes of yoga per day can do for you personally.
Allows for greater flexibility
This is one of the most obvious benefits of yoga, but also one of the most important. With your first class proving to yourself how important and useful flexibility can be, after each sessions you will find yourself improving in many ways you never thought possible. Inflexibility can lead to aches, pains and poor posture meaning once corrected and built upon these issues should begin to disappear, allowing for better mobility and use of your own body!
Although you may not think it, yoga is a brilliant strengthening activity for the body helping to build many muscles and tone the body in fantastic looking ways. Alternative methods such as weight lifting ignore the importance of flexibility, however using this method to do so you sacrifice nothing. Better strength allows for faster movements, higher endurance levels and an ability to perform more tasks alone -such as opening that stubborn jar of jam!
As previously mentioned, when regularly partaking in yoga sessions your posture can be improved upon and even be corrected. Poor posture can lead to back and neck pains, as well as causing other joints and muscles in the area to become sensitive or worn.
Protects the Spine
By using exercises while help to stimulate the spinal disks you allow for proper nutrient intake from them. Not only does regular movement help improve the health of your spine, but it also keeps it supple and flexible allowing for future movements too.
Increases Blood Flow
Yoga can easily get your blood flowing around the body due to the various relaxing positions and breathing techniques. Relaxation exercises which are learnt during yoga sessions can be brilliant in improving the body’s circulation, mostly in the hand and feet areas.
Regular yoga may also boost the levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body, while also thinning the blood by making platelets less sticky than before. Improving blood flow, oxygen levels in the body and reducing the chance of clotting yoga is also decreasing the likelihood of you suffering from either a stroke or cardiac arrest.
Ups Your Heart Rate
Some yoga classes can be rather strenuous, helping the participant to really up their heart rate levels into the aerobic range and therefore lower the body’s risk of heart attack or depression. Granted, a lot of yoga is generally not so vigorous it can from time to time be so when performed various positions in one session.
Better Bone Health
Being well known that healthy bones are fantastic in helping to ward off illnesses such as osteoporosis, it isn’t too far of a stretch to say that yoga can help to prevent such problems from occurring. Many positions in yoga sessions call for the individual to lift or hold their own weight and therefore can help to strengthen the bones in many ways.
Not only does yoga help to improve bone health by strength, it also may help to keep the needed calcium within the bones. By lowering the body’s stress levels, yoga may also encourage the mineral calcium to stay in the bones.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Studies have shown that people with high blood pressure (hypertension) after taking part in regular yoga sessions can in fact reduce their blood pressure levels, with the higher the initial score the bigger the drop becoming. Therefore, if you suffer from high blood pressure yoga could be just the ticket for you!
Relieves Stress and Provides Happiness
Research has found that yoga when practised consistently and regularly improved depression, as well as increased the levels of serotonin within the body of the participant significantly. Not only did yoga increase serotonin, it also allowed for a decrease in the enzyme monoamine oxidase which breaks down neurotransmitters (we need those!) and cortisol. Therefore 30 minutes of yoga per day may actually make you a happier and more care free person!
Helps You to Become More Focused
With studies showing that yoga can improve a person’s coordination, reaction times, memory and in some cases even intelligence levels it’s obvious to say that regular sessions can help you to become a more focused person. This is probably due to the relaxation effects of the exercise allowing for the mind to become clearer and more guided in its trajectories.
Lowers Blood Sugar
By lowering the levels of cortisol and adrenaline levels in the body, yoga can provide many benefits such as lowering blood sugars in the body. This can also cause weight loss effects, allowing for a fitter and more lean body shape.
Improves Your Balance
Those with bad posture and poor flexibility are also likely to suffer from difficulties balancing. By using poses and positions which can train the brain, improve flexibility and the body’s posture yoga can really have a drastic effect upon a person’s balancing skills.
Other issues such as dyspraxia or being deaf can affect a person’s balance, of which may improve after regular sessions in yoga. If you suffer from bad balance, why not try starting today to reduce your chances of hurting yourself or falling.
Maintains the Proper Workings of the Nervous System.
By allowing for a healthy body and healthy mind, yoga can also aid in the correct functioning of the nervous system.
Allows for Better Sleep
Yoga allows stimulated minds to relax, focus and unwind after busy or stressful days. This can be particularly useful before going to bed as it may allow for the brain to properly become ready for sleeping, as well as allow for a better night’s sleep due to a reduce in stresses. Better sleep means a happier and more able to function version of you… wouldn’t it be nice to see that person again!?
Could Prevent IBS and Other Digestive Problems
Irritable bowel syndrome, stomach ulcers and constipation are all worsened or even triggered by a little thing called stress. Using yoga for 30 minutes per day you are drastically reducing the stress levels of your body, while allowing for better digestive functioning too.
Not only does yoga help to relieve stress in order to treat digestive problems, it may also be able to contort the body in certain ways of which can help to push waste through the body. Although this particular theory has not been proven, it is widely believed by many who claim after starting yoga sessions their digestive problems seemed to fully dissipate.
Increases Your Self-Esteem
All these benefits we’ve listed so far such as better posture, potential weight loss effects, a leaner fitter body type and a more stress free life can pile in order to create a new and more confident you! Many of us with poor self esteem tend to treat our bodies negatively, however by breaking the cycle with a simple bunch of exercises such as yoga sessions you can massively improve the way you see yourself and many health issues you may have.