Yoga is not something new, but it has been gaining a lot of popularity in recent years. In America it has become a multi-billion industry. It is practiced by over 20 million people with an annual increase in yoga participants of 20% and a 87% of increase in yoga product spending in the last 5 years. Read more about this here. People just love the wellness lifestyle that yoga seems to be breathing.
I have to admit, I wasn’t quite ahead of the yoga trend and only recently got sucked into the hipness of it. Since it was all new to me and I wasn’t all that flexible, I started practicing at home, watching video’s on YouTube to not look like a retard in yoga class. It started to feel really good and I upgraded by going to 1,5 hours Vinyasa yoga classes weekly on top of practising by myself in the morning after getting up, after work or before going to sleep. I started to really appreciate yoga, and this is why.
Why do I love yoga so much? What does it give me?
Yoga is the time that I can just be with myself, my body and it’s movements. Without a phone, without distractions. A little time for myself within a busy day full of distractions.
Yoga stretches the muscles. It helps you move better and feel less stiff. It can even relief pain. Our sedentary lifestyle can lead to tightness in the hips, which in turn can strain the knee joint due to improper alignment of the hips and shinbones. Tight hamstrings can lead to flattening of the lumbar spine, which can cause back pain. See also this article. You can start feeling improvements in your flexiblity quite fast when practicing yoga. In one study, people improved their flexibility by up to 35% after only 8 weeks of yoga.
Some yoga styles, like power yoga and ashtanga yoga, are very physical and help improve muscle strength and endurance. Different poses work on upper or lower extremity strength and if practiced well, nearly all poses build core strength. As such, yoga can be a great addition to your strength training routine or to running.
Improved strength and flexibility improves your posture. Good posture is important to prevent back and neck muscle and joint problems. See also www.yogajournal.com/article/health/count-yoga-38-ways-yoga-keeps-fit. For most poses, you need your core muscles to work to maintain the pose. Strong core muscles help you to sit and stand straight. On top of this, yoga helps you with being more aware of your body and posture, so you’ll be more likely to correct your posture when needed. This is superimportant to counteract the consequences of sitting at your desk hunched over your computer all day.
Less stress and breathing benefits
Yoga helps me feel less stressed and more relaxed. A good yoga session pays attention to breathing and may teach you certain breathing techniques. Some yoga styles include meditation techniques to help you relax.
Yoga is said to improve the quality of sleep. This can be attributed to yoga’s ability to help people deal with stress. Breathing and relaxation exercises within a yoga session help the mind to slow down and you’ll start to sleep better. See also http://dailyburn.com/life/fitness/health-benefits-yoga/. 1,5 hour of an intense yoga class outside and I sleep like a baby at night!
Regularly practicing yoga increases proprioception and improves balance. Poor proprioception has been linked to back pain and knee problems. See also http://www.yogajournal.com/article/health/count-yoga-38-ways-yoga-keeps-fit/. Better balance could mean lesser falls. This is especially important for older adults being able to keep their independence.
I think yoga should be part an integrated part of a healthy lifestyle. It will help you fight the stress of daily life, it makes you feel relaxed, may even boost your immunity and gives a boost to your happiness through increasing serotonin levels and decreasing cortisol circulating your body. So start learning about downward facing dog, warrior II, child’s pose and more!
To start with, check out this Buzzfeed article on beginner’s yoga poses to help you get started. Personally, I really love the YouTube video’s that Brett Larkin made for Greatist. A good example is the beginner morning yoga sequence.
Next, all about HTF to choose which type of yoga is right for me.
Have a great week!
Image courtesy of pat138241 and stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.