With snow days in full effect and sunlight waning and waning, some of us may be dreading commuting to the gym or unable to get our daily walks in. Because of this, we are now searching for ways to get our bodies moving at home which makes it the best time to try yoga. After all, all you need is a mat and the willingness to move.
Yoga originated in India as a “spiritual and ascetic discipline” that employs the “adoption of specific bodily postures,” breath control, and meditation for improved health and relaxation. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, as of 2017, “one in seven adults in the United States practiced yoga in the last twelve months” demonstrating its rise as a popular form of exercise in the country. Those who practice yoga regularly have noticed improved endurance, calmness, strength, flexibility and overall well-being.
If you’re still on the fence of whether yoga is right for you, let's dive a bit deeper into its benefits.
1. It Builds Muscle Strength and Resiliency
When you first begin yoga, you may notice that it feels a bit weird and uncomfortable; as you’re placing and holding your body in positions in which you normally wouldn’t on a daily basis. But it’s important to remember, that with repeated practice, your body will soon adjust and be able to hold these poses with ease. This happens because yoga employs the use of stretch training, when muscles are deliberately flexed or stretched repeatedly, building strength and tone. This also lowers the risk of being injured.
2. Enhances Flexibility and Balance
Yoga forces you to focus on your breathing and hold specific poses for extended periods of time. This creates “a deep connection” between your brain and your muscle tissue, “encouraging it to relax and stretch.” After repeated practice, you’ll notice your improved ability to accomplish these poses seamlessly, as your joint range of motion will increase, as well as your posture and balance.
3. Promotes Better Breathing
In contrast to vigorous exercise workouts, yoga’s focus on breathing allows for a peaceful movement process. Because of the slow, dynamic and static movements, you exert minimal effort, your breathing is natural and controlled, and overtime your respiratory efficiency will greatly increase.
4. Supports Heart Health
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of yoga is its ability to deeply improve heart health. Yoga not only lowers blood pressure and slows heart rate, but also employs “twisting poses” which are known to “flush the lymphatic system.” These poses help to rid the body of toxins, improving cardiovascular efficiency.
5. Reduces Stress and Improves Sleep
Practicing yoga on a regular basis does wonders for improving energy levels. Stretch training and the relaxing of muscles employs physical and mental exertion which is sure to leave you ready to get a good night’s sleep. But in addition, you’ll also notice yoga’s positive impacts throughout your day. Mood and attention will improve as well as a noticeable decrease in anxiety and depression.