First off, I'm not a yoga expert. However, I do know the body well and definitely promote the health benefits of yoga. So how does yoga, an activity that has been practiced for over 5000 years, stimulate the body and make us feel great?
Simply put, yoga allows us to:
- Relax and focus on our breathing patterns while internalizing our bodies processes. This aids in the meditating effects of yoga and allows us to calm down our systems.
- Increase musculoskeletal strength and endurance. Yoga's many poses ensure we focus attention towards the musculature within our body and stimulate the majority of our muscles, some which we didn't even know existed! This helps increase our musculoskeletal strength as well as endurance.
- Keep heart healthy by assisting with reductions in heart rate and blood pressure. Yoga sessions can also provide positive aerobic stressors which improve the function of our heart and lungs.
- Improve our flexibility. The various positions allow us to increase the range of motion about our joints. This keeps everything well tuned for movement. Important note: when executing a pose, KNOW YOUR LIMITS! Slowly move into a pose and pause (10-20 seconds) as soon as you feel any tightness or pain (this is your body telling you something!). Once at this point you can gradually push further by using deep breathing techniques and relying on the fact that your muscles have adapted to the stretch.
- Improve our posture. By increasing our core strength, flexibility and musculoskeletal strength yoga can influence our posture in meaningful ways!
- Improve our mental health, well-being and quality of life!
**Note: There are different types of yoga, each has specific purposes (if you would like to see a blog on them comment below). Meantime keep in mind, you need to know your limits and stay within them! There's nothing worse than increasing your susceptibility for injury pushing yourself into positions your body isn't comfortable with.
Looking to get started and not sure what type of class to choose? Call the Physical Activity Line at 1-877-725-1149 to speak with a CSEP Certified Exercise Physiologist who can guide you through the process.
References and Resources:
Here is a great article I found that elaborates on the information above: http://www.webmd.com/balance/the-health-benefits-of-yoga