You know that exercise is good for you. You’ve probably heard it a thousand times on television, and maybe your doctor has also told you to get more exercise. Few fitness programs offer broad scope health benefits. Running, for example, strengthens your cardiovascular system and strength training builds muscle. Yoga is one of the few fitness programs that can accomplish both and much more.
#1 Mobility and Flexibility
As you age, and we’re talking about once you've passed that 25-year mark, your body begins to lose some of its mobility. Your muscles can become short and tight. Your tendons can stiffen and your joints may often feel sore. When this happens, simple day-to-day movements can become painful or difficult. You may not be able to touch your toes.
When you walk long distances you may notice that your back aches. And if you try to reach over your head to put something away you may feel pain in your neck or shoulders. This is due to a lack of mobility.
Yoga can improve your mobility, meaning it can help lengthen those tight muscles and tendons. It can give you a better range of motion so that when you move your body, you do it in the most efficient and effective way possible. Not only will you feel better, you’ll stop having those awful aches and pains.
Yoga often requires you to hold a position for an extended period of time. And - in most cases you’re supporting your full body weight. This requires you to build great strength. Most yoga positions recruit strength from your large muscle groups, your core muscles for example. As these muscles increase in strength you’ll find it expands to other areas of your life. Your posture will improve. You’ll be stronger, physically, and thus able to lift and carry more than you used to. And you’ll build muscle which burns fat and looks pretty darn fantastic too.
#3 Reduced Stress
Yoga is very closely tied to the Breath. A yoga practice teaches you to focus on your breathing and intentionally regulate your breathing which can come in very handy when you are under stress. When we are stressed, we breathe fast and shallow. Intentionally focusing and slowing the breath will immediately lower your stress level. All yoga styles have a structured breathing protocol. When you slow your breathing - especially your outbreath - you also slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure, and stop the release of cortisol (a stress hormone) into the bloodstream.
Additionally, yoga requires focus in the moment Some poses not only ask you to hold your body in a balanced position, but also, require you to pay attention to your body and make slight adjustments to improve the pose. You are looking inward and focusing your attention on your body and the present moment. Focusing attention on the present moment reduces stress. For many, yoga is a meditation practice that provides awesome mind-body health effects.
Other yoga health benefits include overall breathing improvement, better posture, and weight loss. If you’re looking for a new fitness program to try, you can’t go wrong with yoga.