Sports & Wellness
Yoga: The Magic of This Ancient Practice
Yoga has been around for over 5000 years and it continues to rise in popularity today. Learn how yoga not only strengthens your body, but also you mind.
Yoga is one of the UK's constantly growing sports, with around 460,000 Brits a week taking part in yoga classes.
Known for promoting physical flexibility and stretching participants' muscles, the sport has associations with sunrise self-reflection and mental relaxation. But just how true are claims that yoga exercises both body and mind? And is it really that great for the body?
If you're looking to find out more about yoga, we've compiled some information right here. Read on to find out more.
Yoga Is a Full Workout
Despite what some people might presume based on the slow, steady movements we associate with yoga, it really is a great way to build a strong body. Every movement is designed to target a different muscle group - and the power of holding a pose should never be underestimated!
Three physical skills are taught in yoga: strength, balance, and flexibility.
Throughout yoga history, the sport has retained its spiritual roots. They shape the sport, with every movement tied to promoting mental wellbeing alongside having a healthy body. It combines exercise with mindfulness, meaning participants pay close attention to the sensations brought about by the movements.
This self-awareness means it is the perfect sport for improving balance.
Listening to the signs of the body means that people doing yoga learn exactly how to stay upright in complex positions, becoming able to centre themselves and remain still for extended periods. This good balance can translate into everyday life, and help people feel more in-tune with their own bodies.
The focus on stretching found in yoga allows participants to improve their flexibility over time: there is no pressure to do a certain movement from day one, which drastically reduces the chance of an over-stretching injury. Instead, people can learn different movements at their own pace.
With that said, it's the ideal sport to tailor to your own ability level at any given moment in time, meaning it can be a great workout for anyone who wants to take part. It's a sport that promotes balance, and a key facet is knowing how to stretch oneself without ever pushing too hard. Being kind to your body is vital to enjoying yoga.
Yoga Encourages You to Take Care of Your Body
You might ask: why yoga, and not a more competitive sport? Well, as one of the most accessible sports that you can do, yoga helps countless people develop routines that promote good rest. The mindfulness it requires can wake you up in the morning, and prepare you for a good night's rest later on.
This is because, as research has shown, yoga reduces stress.
Breathing techniques and body awareness can reduce the physical symptoms of worry, helping people to see their stressors in a new light and work through things with a clear, open mind. In turn, this has a significant positive impact on their ability to get to sleep and stay asleep.
Increased mindfulness can also encourage people to eat healthily.
Spending time being aware of the body can alert people to aches and pains, and motivate them to take better care of themselves by having a balanced diet, resting, and paying attention to pain and tension. This is one of the things that makes yoga unique compared to competitive, high-stakes sports.
Specific Conditions Are Improved
Alongside the overall benefits of the sport, evidence has shown that some of the postures in yoga might help combat particular health problems. These include arthritis and back issues.
The back is an area of the body that few of us pay attention to until it hurts us.
Yoga, however, can change this. Several poses engage the back, which helps people to stretch their muscles, seek out their pains, and learn their limits. In this, yoga helps people soothe their back problems.
A similar effect can be had with mild arthritis: gentle stretching can help to ease pain and cramps. Alongside the advice of a doctor or physiotherapist, yoga might be of great help to those suffering from aches and pains.
Heart health can be improved by practising yoga just as well as it can with other exercises - if not better.
The overall benefits of the sport contribute to having a healthy heart, with healthy weight and cholesterol levels both encouraged by movement. However, yoga has the specific benefit of helping with body-wide inflammation and promoting blood flow to all areas of the body. This has a positive effect on the entire cardiovascular system.
Strong Mind = Happy Mind
Whilst mindfulness sounds to many like a pointless facet of yoga, in truth, it is intertwined with physical health. Yoga promotes mental wellbeing, which boosts mood and results in happier days.
It releases endorphins, like any exercise, making participants feel that exercise rush.
However, the mental effects of yoga can have a more permanent change on people's mindsets. It can promote a better appreciation of the body, teach instant relaxation techniques, and help replace worry with security and happiness.
The importance of happiness should never be underestimated. Yoga can help you improve the health of both body and mind.
Try a Yoga Session Today
Now that you know more about yoga benefits, it's time to get yourself down to a session and try it for yourself. Soon enough, your body and mind will be stronger than ever before.
If you'd like to get in touch with a yoga coach and book in with them today, we can help. Just take a look at our coach search tool, or get in touch, and we can connect you with a great yoga professional near you!