If you have never practised Yoga, we hope that you will start doing so after reading this article
Everyone thinks that the sport discipline that we follow is the best. We know its advantages, we enjoy doing it and we barely see any issues.
What is Yoga?
The word yoga means “union” in Sanskrit, the language from ancient India where it was invented. Above all, we may think that this union refers to the one between mind, body and spirit.
The Sanskrit word “asana” could be even more precise, since it refers to practising physical postures.
Benefits for Health
- Natural Therapy
Yoga is a natural therapy that has become a very popular technique in the West. Some researchers have started to study its benefits as a complementary treatment for specific conditions like depression, asthma, back pain and arthritis.
Even the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have funded clinical studies about yoga and its benefits against insomnia and multiple sclerosis.
Some studies suggest that it could also have a positive effect on learning and memory. In fact, it is also being studied if it can delay the aging process, increase the feeling of self-acceptance or improve the energy levels.
- Mind and Spirit
Some of the benefits of yoga can be difficult to study scientifically. For instance, it is said that it enhances the spiritual conscience. Some practitioners even claim that it can improve the marriage and work relations.
Yoga Supports Sport
If you think about it, it is good to have a wide range of sports with completely different styles to choose from
Because, as we already know, the most important thing is to be active and what better way to do so than doing something we enjoy. On the contrary, we will give up soon very easily.
Yoga can improve the performance on your main sport. That is why professional athletes also practise yoga, either footballers, swimmers, runners, triathletes, crossfitters, dancers, climbers…
Yoga is not Stretching
Many people think that yoga is just stretching
However, it is the way to create a balance by increasing our strength and flexibility. This is achieved with poses, each one of them with specific benefits for our physique.
You can make the poses quickly one after the other, creating heat in the body. On the contrary, you can make them slowly to increase your resistance and align the pose perfectly
Yoga and Flexibility
When some people think about yoga, they believe they will have to stretch like a gymnast and they decide not to practice it
The truth is that it is never too late to improve our flexibility. Properly executed poses will help you stretch your muscles, improve the joint movement range and even increase its lubrication.
The result is a feeling of lightness and fluidity throughout the whole body
Yoga and Strength
Some yoga styles like Ashtanga are more lively than the rest
Doing this type of yoga can help you improve your muscle tone. On the contrary, the less lively yoga styles Iyengar and Hatha focus less on the movement and more on obtaining a more precise alignment on the poses.
This can increase the strength and resistance
Yoga improves your Posture
With more flexibility and strength, we will have a better posture
Most of the poses are meant to improve our core. This is due to the fact that we will have to use the deep abdomen in order to support and maintain each pose. A stronger core will probably result in a better pose.
Increasing the flexibility and strength can help to prevent the causes of some types of back pain. For instance, spending a long time sitting or driving
Therapy against Stress
Even beginners start to feel less stress and more relaxed after their first yoga lesson
Some yoga styles including specific meditation techniques to reduce the constant “mental mumbling” that can cause stress. Other yoga styles rely on deep-breathing techniques to focus the mind on the breathing
When this happens, we can calm our mind
There is a catecholamin drop, which are the hormones produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. The drop in the hormone neurotransmitter levels (dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine) produces a feeling of relaxation. Some studies point to an increase in oxytocin.
Yoga to Focus
Two of the most common benefits from yoga are a better focus and the ability to concentrate mentally.
These benefits are closely linked to the mood. Almost all yoga practitioners will tell you that they feel happier after a lesson.
Yoga is still being studied as a complementary treatment to relieve the symptoms of OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)
Yoga for the Heart
It is known that doing yoga regularly can lower the blood pressure and the heartbeat, as illustrated in this study. This can specially benefit those who suffer from hypertension, heart diseases and strokes. At a biochemical level, the studies have reported that yoga could have an antioxidant effect.
Yoga is associated with a lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as a boost for immune system.
Reasons to do Yoga
- Stretching and improving the movement range
Since the lesson consists of poses that stretch the muscles, it helps to increase the time spent on stretching. We usually tend to forget about this part that is as important as the workout itself. Yoga helps to get rid of the stiffness, tension and muscle contractions produced by the stress of the workouts. In addition, it improves the joint movement range.
- Injury prevention
It helps to prevent future injuries. When the muscle is more flexible, it is easier to prevent muscular tear, inflammation and joint fragility.
- Improves the balance
Yoga is not as simple as it looks. In fact, it does not only stretch, but it also develops key elements such as our balance. You will understand how much effort it requires after trying out some poses.
- Fixes muscle imbalances
Apart from stretching and balance, it requires strength but in a different way from what you are used to do. This is good, because you will be working other parts of your body that you do not focus on in your main workouts. Therefore, it will help you fix imbalances. Sometimes, due to the nature of your main sport, some muscles will work a lot more than others which are practically ignored and, consequently, weakened. With yoga, you will be able to train your entire body.
- Create new movement adaptations
There are poses that will be easier and others that may look impossible. Facing new situations in which you are not the best will help you develop mental fortitude. You will learn to accept your own limits.
- Improving the breathing
A regular practice of “pranayama” (yoga breathing technique) helps us to be aware of our breathing and improves the blood oxygenation. Therefore, this will help to improve the performance and resistance.
- Active rest
If you are an athlete who wants to improve your performance, you should include rest days in your planning in order to recover and keep progressing. If you feel like rest days are too relaxing for you, yoga is a perfect low-impact exercise that will not hinder your recovery, quite the opposite actually.
If you believe that all these reasons are not enough to try yoga, you may know someone who can tell you their first-hand experience.
On the contrary, if you decide to give it a try you will most certainly stay. It will not negatively affect your workouts, in fact, you will not need to spend a long time on it. In addition, you will start experiencing its benefits just with a lesson per week.
Are you more convinced yet?
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