Yoga has become very popular over the last decade. Actors, athletes, politicians and moms are doing it. In fact, there is no firm demographic of people who are devoted to yoga, it runs the gamut.
Yoga Is For Everyone – Yes, Even You
Why are so many people doing it? What are the benefits and what is the commitment? Can it replace strength or cardiovascular training?
The Benefits of Yoga
Simply put, yoga is excellent for your physical and psychological being. Below is a list of some of the most common benefits gleaned from practicing yoga on a regular basis.
Some of The Benefits of a Regular Yoga Practice
- Improves muscle tone, flexibility, strength and stamina
- Reduces stress, tension and blood pressure
- Boosts self-esteem
- Improves concentration and creativity
- Decreases stored fat
- Improves circulation
- Improves digestion
- Stimulates the immune system
- Improves balance
- Improves mind/body connection
- Improves posture
- Improves agility
- Fosters a sense of well-being and calm
Yoga was developed in India 5000 years ago and brought to the United States in the early 20th Century, it has been proven over time that yoga is for everyone. Yoga is a holistic therapy that is beneficial to the whole being. It’s not just a Band-aid meant to relieve an illness or cover pain. Yoga seeks to create balance between the mind, body and spirit, which allows the natural healing process to occur. Yoga is very beneficial in preventing and eliminating some physical and emotional issues. Results may vary, but as with most things, you get out of it what you put into it.
Yoga Can Be Meditative
Yoga involves holding postures, which improves balance, strength and stamina. Many of these postures help to improve circulation, digestion, balance, flexibility and agility. The process of holding certain postures can be very difficult and requires a great deal of strength, balance and concentration. It’s a type of meditation. If a person is focusing intensely on something, they are not usually bothered by other thoughts intruding in their mind. This is how concentration and the mind/body connection improve.
Because these postures take a great deal of strength and stamina, muscles become more tone and develop a greater tolerance for endurance. The back, arms, legs, abs, practically every muscle in the body can achieve a good intense workout (with certain types of yoga). It’s not uncommon for participants to be soaked in sweat after an hour-long class.
Yoga helps to teach proper breathing and alignment of the body. The focus is on balance. The body should be in balance physically, from front to back and side to side. Breathing should come from the diaphragm (which can be noticed by the stomach expanding and contracting instead of the rib cage). With proper breathing the body receives more oxygen, a person feels better and the immune system improves. With proper posture, proper breathing and stronger muscle fitness, a person will stand up straight, walk straight, and enter a room with greater self-esteem and confidence.
Yoga comes in many forms. There are at least 27 different types practiced in the United States ranging from slow easy stretches with meditative breathing and guided imagery to intense sweat producing postures held for many minutes in a 105-degree room. To achieve the maximum benefits of yoga a person should practice as much as possible – every day of the week would not be too much. Although, a person can feel more relaxed and limber after just one session the more it is practiced, the better they will feel and the longer the benefits will last.
Why Start Yoga?
The most common reason people begin a yoga program is to relieve stress and back pain, and within a few sessions they usually feel better. They will also probably notice improvement in their gait, balance and general ability to move more freely.
All-and-all yoga is very beneficial to the whole person and should be part of a regular exercise program. Young and old, fit and unfit alike, yoga can play a beneficial roll in one’s fitness. Yoga is for everyone and is not a stand-alone cure-all. It should be woven in with cardio and strength training, but like juice, toast and milk with breakfast cereal, yoga complements other fitness programs beautifully.