Somewhere along the line you have decided that yoga isn’t for you. You can’t even touch your toes, let alone stand on one leg with your foot above your head. Meditation? Even that has you running for the hills. Last time you attempted to meditate you spent the entire time assembling a to-do list in your head and you’ve accepted that you aren’t the ‘Zen’ type? Many of us try yoga once and move onto the next craze, yet with all of its devoted followers, yoga doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. So what are you missing? Today on the blog, one of my favourite yogi’s Karen Bicchierai from Bikram Yoga Prahran lists her favourite 3 benefits of yoga. Once you begin to understand the benefits associated with regular practice, there is a very good chance that you will start a routine sooner rather than later.
1. INCREASED FLEXIBILITY
Flexibility has always been sexy, we all know it.
Lack of flexibility causes your movement to become slower and less fluid and makes you more susceptible to muscle strains, ligament sprains and other soft tissue injuries. The most effective way to increase your flexibility is by stretching… Yoga anyone?
No matter what your age of occupation, yoga can improve your flexibility. “I can’t tell you how many times people have said to me ‘I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible’. Flexibility comes with practice, like anything, the more you do the better you get”
Need more convincing? The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recently studied the physical benefits of yoga and found that “the regular practice of Hatha yoga significantly improved the subjects’ flexibility, muscular strength and endurance, and balance. After eight weeks, the average flexibility of the yoga group improved by 13% to 35%
You hear that? You will be touching your toes in no time!
2. MUSCLE TONING
Want to lift that butt and tone those arms?
“Yoga, especially the stronger styles, such as Bikram, will help tone your muscles. With regular practice, you will build lean muscle and rid excess body fat. Add the heat and Hot yoga or Bikram will add to increasing your heart rate, therefor slimming and toning your body to its ideal shape and size. I have just turned 40 and I would say my body is in better shape than when I was 20”.
The study conducted by the ACE (mentioned above) also reported that regular yoga practice boosted the yoga group’s muscular strength and endurance.
3. HEALTHY MIND
Ever feel like your mind is go go go and sometimes you just want to scream? Stress feel like it is taking over?
By practicing regular yoga you learn to still the mind and focus. Each posture in yoga is called an ‘asana’ literally meaning ‘to take ones seat’. The aim of each asana is to find stillness in posture. Concentrating on external stillness helps with stillness in the mind.
“People who practice yoga frequently report that they sleep better and feel less stressed. It helps you learn not to concentrate on things you can’t control. For me, Bikram makes my body and mind feel amazing; it’s a reset button. I feel lucky to have a tool I can turn to when life throws me curve balls.”
Yoga also works by stimulating the endocrine system (hormone and gland function). By improving how your body works internally, you also reduce the effects of stress on the body and mind.
If you are still unsure of the benefits of yoga, both mentally and physically, you are not alone. In order to learn more about the benefits, your best bet is to begin to practice yoga on a regular basis. Remember, you don’t need to be flexible to start. Once you take the plunge you will realise the benefits first hand and you will be hooked.