Yoga is an incredible exercise form that is often overlooked because it does not appear high intensity and people, therefore, doubt that it offers any real health and fitness benefits. This could not be further from the truth, and if we dispel the misconception that all exercise needs to be cardiovascular and leave us massively out of breath and sweating to see any improvement, yoga is revealed as a powerful contender for health and fitness.
Improves Core and Muscle Strength
One of the biggest issues people struggle with is the core strength. Office jobs, sitting down all day, armchairs, and for the ladies – childbirth is all detrimental to core strength – and it tends to be something that cardio exercise does not help. You can be at risk of injury if you hammer the cardio with a weak core as your posture and frame adapt to poor positions. Core strength is needed to keep everything in place as you move. The good news is that yoga improves body strength. Poses such as ‘The Plank’ target the core muscles, while a range of other poses enables you to hit all muscle groups – targeting strength building without straining anything.
Most of us live in a chaotic world, frantically racing from work to home, having to juggle shopping, bills, socialising and of course our jobs. We live in an almost perpetual state of motion and as a consequence are a nation of poor sleepers. Leaving the body in a heightened state of stress can impact the mammalian part of the brain (the amygdala) responsible for the fight of flight mechanism. If our stress levels leave us consistently in this fight or flight stress, we are at risk of many health issues overcoming our vulnerable system. Stress can be a killer so taking steps to lower levels is vital. Yoga offers relaxation methods to quiet the mind and halt the relentless chatter we all experience. This, in turn, boosts the oxygen flow to the brain and shut down the amygdala response enabling us to rest and reset.
Perfect for Weight Loss
By stretching the body into the proper place, and recovering the posture we were designed to have, we can aid weight loss with yoga. Our bodies develop abnormal positions from the constant damage we inflict, and this can cause pain and unhappiness. Sometimes this is subtle, but over-eating is comfort response that many people use to combat feelings of negativity about body image. By correcting the posture the body begins to look longer and leaner without actually doing anything more than yoga, and if you combine this with the mind clearing, stress releasing benefit (stress is also a major contributory factor with over-eating), it is no surprise that yoga can actually help you lose weight and feel happier with your body.
There are may other benefits to yoga, including increasing flexibility and lowering blood pressure, so it becomes easy to see why this is something we should all be aiming to work into our lives. It is worth making the time, as the benefits to health and fitness are pretty significant.