Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that has increased in popularity over the last few decades, it is estimated that over 15 million people in the world now frequently practice Yoga and it has many health benefits. Here are our top 5 reasons why yoga should be an integral part of your exercise regime.
1. Decreases stress and Improves your mood
Yoga is a mind and body practise that incorporates controlled breathing, meditation, physical poses and relaxation. Yoga has many different styles but Hatha yoga, in particular, is a good choice for stress management. In Hatha yoga, the physical and mental disciplines combine together to help you achieve peacefulness of both the body and mind, therefore helping you to relax and manage stress and anxiety. Practising the specific meditation techniques can help boost oxygen to the brain leaving you feeling happier and more relaxed. Hatha yoga is one of the most common practices and is a perfect choice for beginners.
2. Increases flexibility
Everyone should stretch as part of their exercise regime but yoga can help enormously in the quest for a more flexible body. As well as stretching the muscles, yoga also stretches the joints which will increase the range of motions allowing you to move more freely. It also helps prevent muscle soreness and promotes faster recovery between training sessions. Improving flexibility is important as it helps prevent injury in other exercises or sports.
3. Improves muscle tone and strength
Yoga will significantly improve your core strength and muscle tone, yoga poses such as the downward dog will improve your upper body strength, whilst standing poses will increase your upper leg and lower back muscles. In yoga, the only weight you are lifting is your own, by completing different sets of poses and stretches your body will receive a full work out without putting too much stress on the joints or bones.
4. Improves your posture
Yoga will help you maintain a healthier weight, improve your muscle tone, increase your strength and expand your body’s flexibility all of which will contribute to an improved posture. Your abdominal and back muscles will gain core strength which will help you to stand up taller and slouch less. A better posture will also help prevent injuries and aches and pains.
5. Improves your respiratory system and decreases blood pressure
If you regularly practise yoga then it can greatly improve your lung capacity, which in turn will improve your stamina and endurance when competing in other exercises or activities. Breathing and meditation exercises that are part of yoga will help you to relax and slow your heart rate, this will aid in lowering blood pressure levels. Yoga has also been linked to lowering cholesterol and improving the immune system.
Yoga can be practised almost anywhere, it requires little equipment with beginners needing just a yoga mat, with the possibility of progressing on to using blocks or resistant bands. Classes are a great way to start and meet like-minded people but yoga can also be accessed online or by DVD.