The practice of yoga is designed to help foster clarity and harmony in life. While many fitness programs focus on a need to “fix” yourself, yoga is dedicated to meeting people where they are to improve health in a positive and non-forceful way. Many people who regularly practice yoga enjoy the benefits of a stronger, slimmer, and more flexible body, in addition to a calmer and more relaxed mind. This mind-body practice combines physical poses, meditation, and controlled breathing to help achieve peacefulness of both the body and mind. If you find that you’re often stressed or if you’re looking for a way to improve your overall health in a positive way, give yoga a try!
Yoga has many different styles and intensities so it’s easy for anyone to find a pace they enjoy. Since September is National Yoga Month, we at Brevard Health Alliance think it’s a great time to highlight the many health benefits of starting a yoga practice:
1. Stress Relief
Practicing yoga encourages relaxation by helping to lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. By reducing the physical effects of stress on the body, yoga helps to lower blood pressure and heart rate, improve digestion, boost the immune system, and calm anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, and depression.
2. Improved Circulation
As a result of the various poses and flows, yoga helps to improve circulation and move oxygenated blood to all cells throughout the body.
3. Pain Relief
Studies have found that the combination of yoga postures and meditation helps to reduce pain in those suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune diseases, and hypertension. It can also help to ease back and neck pain. Many yogis believe that practicing yoga helps to decrease emotional pain in addition to calming physical pain.
4. Cardiovascular Conditioning
All levels of yoga help to lower your resting heart rate, improve endurance, and increase oxygen uptake.
5. Focus on the Present
Yoga places a large focus on mindfulness and staying in the present. It helps us to become more aware to improve concentration, coordination, reaction time, and memory to advance mind-body health.
6. Inner Peace
Many people really enjoy the meditative part of the yoga experience. Oftentimes those who begin a yoga practice report that yoga helps them to reach a deeper and more spiritual point in their lives.
7. Better Breathing
Practicing yoga involves learning how to control your breath through slow, deep breathing. A focus on the breath helps to improve lung function, increase the flow of oxygen throughout the body, and trigger the body’s natural relaxation response.
Adopting a yoga practice helps to increase a range of movement to improve flexibility and mobility. After a continued yoga practice, ligaments, tendons, and muscles lengthen to make more poses possible, increase elasticity, and reduce aches and pains. The improved flexibility benefit of yoga also helps to align the body for better posture to relieve back, neck, joint, and muscle pain.
9. Increased Strength
The postures in yoga engage the whole body for head to toe strength training. While a stronger body is always a positive, it also helps to relieve muscular tension.
10. Weight Management
Practicing yoga helps to reduce cortisol levels, burn excess calories, and reduce stress – all things that aid in weight control. A yoga practice also promotes healthy eating habits and a positive sense of self to encourage healthy weight management.
The great thing about yoga is that it can be enjoyed by almost anyone at any level. It’s generally considered to be safe for most healthy people when done under the guidance of a certified instructor. If you’re ready to begin learning yoga, there’s many ways to get started. Some people learn from books and videos, but most beginners enjoy starting with an instructor. Classes are also a way to meet new people and create new friendships, which is another important aspect of your overall wellbeing. Here are some tips for beginning a yoga practice:
- Attend a beginner’s class or workshop where you can learn the basics and the safe way to do commonly used poses.
- Many studios offer a free beginner’s trial period. Take advantage of this free pass to feel out the studio, different teachers, and different types of yoga classes.
- Talk to any of your friends who practice yoga and ask them to take you along to their favorite classes. Going with a friend will make your first experience more comfortable.
- Don’t compare yourself with others and be patient. Yoga is all about your own personal journey, so learn to be comfortable where you are.
- Have fun as you learn, that’s what it’s all about!
If you’re looking to reduce stress and improve your overall health and wellbeing, then yoga is for you!