Yoga is a pretty common hobby nowadays but it’s not something I’ve just started taking an interest in – it’s something I’ve been involved with since I was 19. Back in the 90’s I thought the only way to ‘work out’ was through high energy classes and spending all hours at the gym. Basically if you weren’t sweating your ass off it didn’t count!
So how did i grow to love yoga? Well after this brief introduction (and dismissing it as frustratingly slow) it took me another 8 years to return to yoga – and I realised I’d totally missed the point of it! It wasn’t about sweating till I felt faint, it was about exploring the different forms of the practice to find the ones I likes and the teachers that I felt worked for me.
My lightbulb moment came whilst juggling young children, work and family. I attended a class in London that just spoke to me – it allowed me to balance what was going on in my life and I left feeling calm and uplifted. And although I wouldn’t say I’ve become a fanatic, It’s become a part of my life that I crave on a daily basis. But what benefits does it have for our bodies and minds? Here’s some that I have experienced…
Yoga is all about the body strength – after all you’re using your own body weight to hold positions that can be very exhausting if you don’t have the upper body strength. However it’s not a practice that will ever give you the bulky muscle look that many women fear. What it will do is build strength and lean muscles as well as building up your core which is great if you suffer from back pain or want to improve your posture.
We were built to be active beings but it’s increasingly common that we spend long periods of time being sedentary. Yoga is a great way to combat this – through specific poses and movements we can keep our joints mobile and supple at whatever age and may even prevent arthritis.
Improved Heart Health
Yoga is a great way of increasing the blood flow around the body which in turn allows blood to flow through our muscles, our tissues and our cells. This helps to get fresh nutrients through to the organs which in turn keeps our hearts – and skin – healthy and has been shown to help lower blood pressure. Now just think about those benefits whilst you’re trying to perfect your handstand!
Improved Immune System
The relaxation and breathing skills that we learn in yoga help our immune system to settle down whilst the flowing movements we practice help to enhance the flow of our body’s natural defence system – the lymphatic system – detoxifying the body in the process. Inversions and shoulder stands are also great for helping your immune cells to move around the body – why not give it a try before you go to bed.
Yoga gives you so much to focus on – your breath, your posture, the position you’re in, not falling over! It’s a great way to switch off from the thoughts of the day without really realising you’re doing it!
Did you know that yoga poses can actually increase blood flow to the skin? They benefit the face muscles by increasing the lymph flow whilst the natural improvement in your breathing, stress levels and immune system from your practice will also benefit your complexion. It’s a win win!
These are just a few of the benefits I’ve felt from investing in a regular yoga practice. What benefits have you felt from yoga? Is there something I’ve missed? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below…