The health benefits of yoga
I’m sure you’ve all heard that yoga is amazing, and has so many benefits but what exactly does this mean? What are the benefits, and why should we be thinking of including yoga as part of our routine? I’m going to run through just a few of the benefits of yoga whether you are a total beginner or you just want to know a little more about how your practice can benefit you.
Build muscle strength without the cardio and weights
Yoga is one of those exercises that when you see people doing it you think it looks so easy. Until you try it and faceplant the floor… (maybe I’m speaking from personal experience). That’s because the complicated yoga postures you may see people doing take lots and lots of practice and incredible muscle strength. It’s genuinely surprising how difficult some of the moves are, even just doing a simple downward dog is difficult when you first start. Even now I still struggle to get my heels anywhere near the floor! Yoga is al about using your body weight and building muscle strength without all the expensive equipment and without the trek to the crowded gym.
Helps you keep focus
As well as building strength and muscle, it’s great for calming the mind and putting any anxiety at ease. Yoga is essentially a form of meditation. It’s intended to be a practice that is in both the body and the mind, working them together rather than just working the body as you would in a traditional gym workout. Have you ever noticed that when you do exercise you enjoy, before you know it half an hour has gone by without you even thinking about the time as you’re so engrossed in the movement and focusing your mind on the present rather than listening to the anxiety.
Releases any tension
Yoga is an easy way to release any tension we hold in the body. I find the most useful time to do this is at the end of the yoga session during Savasana (or corpse pose). This is the part where you lay flat on the mat, eyes closed and spent a few minutes doing a relaxation exercise, scanning the body for any tensions you don’t realise you are holding. It could be that your tongue is pushing up into the roof of your mouth, your eyes are scrunched rather than relaxed, or event that your buttocks are clenched. All of these are unconscious behaviours which encourage tension, so recognising when we are doing this and allowing ourselves to take note and change our behaviours can help us to relax and release this tension.
Can help with digestive issues
It has been shown in many studies has yoga is particularly beneficial for those suffering with digestive issues. The various poses and stances all work in different ways and target different areas of the body, but the moves with twists and forward bends are most beneficial as they are essentially massaging your internal organs and aiding detoxification, helping things to move along inside you. We know that one of the most common reasons for digestive issues is stress, and yoga also helps with stress by allowing you to be in the moment and be fully relaxed, thus helping with digestion by reducing stress.
Yoga can be a way to build self-awareness of our own emotions, and a way of allowing us to break free of any emotions which can be seen as destructive for our mental and physical health. It allows us to recognise our emotions and really understand our own minds in order to make improvements and make more space for self-care. This can be translated into other areas of our lives when we are not taking part in our yoga practice. We may feel a certain emotion and be transported to the calm state of mind we experience while in a yoga flow -it can provide you with the tools you need in your life to cope with difficult situations. And the more you take part in a yoga practice, the more you will benefit.
Try dedicating a short amount of time each day to a yoga practice and see if this makes a difference in any way to your life and let me know the results! There are lots of ways for beginners to get involved without even having to leave the house as there are thousands of free yoga classes on youtube for you to get started with. Although I do find that at home yoga is great when you’re short on time, going to a class gives you a real all-round experience as you can get wisdom from your yoga teacher and get personalised advice on any poses you are finding difficult to crack.
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