Yoga is the physical, mental, and spiritual discipline originating in ancient India. Yoga in the West is typically associated with Hatha yoga. The practice of Hatha yoga is to achieve balance between body and mind through postures, breathing exercises, and meditation.
Here are five reasons why everyone needs a little yoga in their life:
1) Improve Strength and Flexibility:
A consistent yoga practice will improve your strength and flexibility. Many people don’t try yoga because they think they aren’t flexible enough, have bad balance, or can’t endure an entire class.
We are all a combination of strength and flexibility. You may be very flexible in one posture, but lack the strength to hold in the posture. Conversely, you may hold a pose forever with excellent muscular strength and endurance, but lack the flexibility for full posture expression. Yoga helps you find the balance between strength and flexibility.
2) Keep Your Heart Happy:
Yoga has been shown to improve heart health. M.Mala Cunningham, Ph.D., counseling psychologist and founder of Cardiac Yoga, says yoga can help prevent or reverse heart disease. Yoga can decrease blood pressure, increase lung capacity, improve respiratory function and heart rate, and boost circulation. You can even find a yoga instructor specializing in cardiac medical yoga. Check out www.cardiacyoga.com.
3) Decrease Stress:
Yoga can help you combat daily stresses. Breathing exercises, or pranayama, should be part of your yoga practice. Pranayama teaches you to breathe more slowly and deeply. Learning to control and become more aware of your breath can help relax your body and clear your mind. You will experience more inner peace, better sleep, better memory, and better concentration.
4) Assist in Weight Loss:
Yoga can help an individual lose weight when used in combination with cardiovascular exercise, weight-training, and a proper nutritional program.
As mentioned above, yoga can reduce stress. Stress is a known contributor to weight gain. Excess of the stress hormone cortisol can slow down your metabolism. Stress can induce cravings for more salty, fatty, and sugar-filled foods. Practicing yoga will help reduce cravings and decrease cortisol levels.
Yoga can also improve sleep and increase energy levels. Better rest and more energy will fuel your workouts, enhance recovery, and help you stay consistent with a fitness program.
5) Cultivate Mindfulness:
One of my favorite quotes is from Thich Nhat Hanh in the book True Love, “Without mindfulness we live like the dead.”
Yoga is all about mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of bringing the body and mind back to the present moment without judgment or criticism. You become more in touch with your thoughts and actions. The mind-body connection will enable you to make better decisions. You will gain emotional strength and confidence. Reactionary and mindless actions are replaced with loving kindness and awareness of yourself and others.
Yoga is for everybody! No matter what you bring to the mat, yoga will greatly benefit your life. If you are new to yoga, try a few different styles before you settle into a yoga practice. Grab a buddy and go on a yoga adventure! Are you an experienced yogi? Continue to broaden your practice by trying a new style, new studio, or a new teacher.
Bring an open heart and open mind to the mat. Get ready to reap the endless benefits of yoga!