No matter what kind of healthy lifestyle you keep, yoga is a wonderful practice to include in your routine. An excellent way to improve strength and fitness in its own right, it acts as a great complement to any other kind of exercise you are doing, from running to weight lifting to rock climbing or martial arts.
If you’ve never done yoga before it can seem a bit bamboozling but fear not! I am here to demystify this centuries-old wellbeing system and show how it can be perfectly relevant here in the 21st century.
Yoga is designed as a holistic system to make your entire body work better, and more than that it deepens the connection between your body, your emotions, and your mind – so that you can have more control over all three.
BENEFITS OF YOGA PRACTICE
Let’s look in more detail at some of the great things that adding in a little yoga can do for you.
MOBILITY and INTEGRITY
The first benefit that most people think of is improved flexibility, and it is true – yoga postures open up the body and make the tissues more supple. This can be invaluable if you do other exercise which is repetitive or which creates density in the body. I’m sure you’ve experienced stiffness the day after a heavy training session! Yoga movement can help to loosen up but more than that it brings increased blood flow to the tissues, allowing for improved recovery and growth.
Despite what many think, being flexible is not a prerequisite for doing yoga. In yoga we recognise that every body is completely different and so the practice is designed to meet you where you are.
Every posture and movement in yoga involves 100% of the body – often we discover muscles and corners that we had long forgotten about! For this reason yoga builds integrity in the body – which is useful for functional strength for life and staying active as we get older, as well as improving form and performance in other forms of fitness.
Probably the most important aspect of yoga is its integration of movement with the breath. In yoga we learn to use the full capacity of the lungs, which improves every aspect of the body’s functioning. Deeper, more efficient breathing improves oxygenation of the blood and the brain and all of the body’s tissues. This means that our body and mind work better, and it also improves waste elimination through a fuller exhale.
Conscious control of the breath gives us control over the autonomic nervous system – that is, the fight or flight/ rest and recover modes. By changing the way we breathe, we can influence our heart rate, metabolism, blood pressure, tissue repair, stress response, and much more! In effect the breath is like a volume control for the body – there is no such thing as an involuntary system in the body if we learn to regulate the motion of the lungs.
CONCENTRATION AND MENTAL STAMINA
The conscious connection between movement and the breath means we refine and strengthen our focus when we do yoga. This transferable skill can be applied to be more productive at work, more present in our relationships, and even give us the mental strength to push through that last mile on the treadmill!
No matter what level you are at, if you’re just beginning or if you are twisting into crazy pretzel shapes every morning, these benefits apply across the board. You need no special preparation to practise yoga either, just some comfy clothes and an open mind.
YOGA CLASSES AT FIT FOR IT STUDIO
Every Sunday morning –