Self-Care Saturdays: Total Body Benefits of Yoga
The ancient practice of yoga is known for it’s physical, mental and spiritual benefits, with a growing body of scientific evidence on how yoga works to transform body and mind. Indeed yoga is very effective for preventing or for relieving and reversing disease, but one of most wonderful things about yoga is its accessibility. You don’t have to be young, skinny or fit, and you don’t necessarily have to be “healthy” to practice. Indeed, yoga is excellent for people with chronic disease or for those with limited mobility. In fact, yoga can even be practiced by individuals who are confined to wheelchairs!
Spoiled for choice
With yoga, you can select a yoga style that is tailored to your personal requirements and interests, such as flow yoga, power yoga, or restorative yoga. You can practice yoga at home using a DVD, in a class at your local gym, or at a yoga studio for a one to one session. Hatha yoga is great for newbies, focusing on basic postures at a comfortable pace. If your goal is to increase strength, power yoga may be right for you. In hot yoga, the room temperature is set to a steamy 100 degrees, resulting in elimination of toxins from the body while you sweat. No matter your fitness level, body type, or health history, yoga has a place for you.
Much more than a workout
Promoting overall wellbeing, yoga is not just about exercising, it’s about a healthy lifestyle. The practice of yoga allows its practitioners to be still in a world consumed with chaos. The deep breathing and meditative aspects of yoga help foster an inner shift away from the daily concerns like work duties, the kids, or to-do lists, to something a little bit bigger than the issues you face. In addition, yoga helps to relieve stress and declutter the mind, and aids in getting more focused.
Greater strength and flexibility
The asanas (or poses) in yoga are meant to strengthen your body from the head to toe. Yoga requires you to get into and hold poses that will naturally strengthen your muscles, using only your bodyweight for resistance. As you do more yoga, your body weight should naturally decrease, which logic would say should make the poses more easy to complete. A sustained yoga practice can produce noticeably increased flexibility and mobility, while also relieving joint and muscle pain, correcting alignment and posture.
Total body benefits
Research has focused on yoga’s efficacy for both prevention of disease and how it helps you to recover from it. Yoga also has multiple benefits for the mind and emotions. Here just some of the ways that yoga promotes greater health and wellbeing:
Promotes better quality sleep and relieves insomnia
Increases energy levels
Lowers blood pressure
Gives your immune system a boost
Benefits cardio-vascular health
Improves respiration and lung function
Correct posture and alignment
Reduces symptoms of stress and anxiety
Gives your mood a lift and relieves depression
Lowers risk of heart disease
Prevents cartilage and joint breakdown
Betters bone health
Increases blood flow
Relaxes the nervous system, promoting calm and relaxation
Improves digestive function and eases intestinal distress
Eases pain from back pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other chronic conditions
Enhances memory, focus and cognitive function
Regulates your adrenal glands
Encourages self-care and paying attention to healthier food choices
Improves relationships and makes you more compassionate
No matter what ails your aching body, or if you just want to take your fitness to a higher level, yoga's ability to strengthen, relieve and relax has an undeniably effect on the total body.