Even though all those yoga poses may seem daunting initially but it’s actually an easy type of exercise. This is just one of the many benefits of yoga that anyone who is interested in the practice ought to be aware of.
This is partly due to the fact that a lot of yoga is being inwardly focused and getting your body in alignment and your mind.
“Despite popular belief, yoga is more than just a physical practice–yoga is a complete program of how to live in the world,” Ingrid Yang, M.D. is a certified internal medicine doctor with a board certification and a certified yoga instructor located in San Diego, tells SELF.
In reality, she says that it all comes back to the definition of yoga: Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word yuj meaning to tie or bind, she explains. “Understanding the meaning of yoga helps us to understand that the practice that yoga provides is one of connecting, that is, the union between our own bodies and minds. This is why yoga is a natural method to help us keep our body and mind in the same spot simultaneously.”
However, there’s more as well. Here’s what you should be aware of about the mentally grounded type of exercise.
Is yoga a practice?
As per the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health yoga is a long-standing practice that is based on the Indian concept of improving physical and mental wellness that was developed over four thousand years ago.
What makes yoga unique is the fact that it blends the mindfulness benefits of meditation and physical poses, which are also called yoga asanas. You’re not just strengthening your muscles to face life’s challenges as you perform the postures and stretches, but also utilizing the power of breath and your thoughts to help you stay at a steady pace.
Yoga poses are designed to help strengthen and align your bones and muscles and alleviate the tension that your mind and body experience. Dr. Yang explains.
“We are able to become aware of the emotions that come up–physical as well as emotional during yoga practice and become aware of the thoughts that are in our minds. When we practice this in tandem the heart expands and our mind relaxes and we can are able to live life with greater grace and optimism in an effortless and natural way,” Dr. Yang affirms.
What beginner’s should be aware of before starting yoga?
There are numerous types of yoga classes, like Hatha vinyasa, Ashtanga, and even hot yoga, such as Bikram. If you’re new to yoga it’s possible to take a Hatha class. be a good place to start because it’s easy and teaches the basic postures that serve as the base for other yoga styles, Keisha Courtney, a certified yoga teacher from Oakland and the founder of The Driven Yogi, a program of continuing education for yoga instructors who want to improve their safety and effectiveness as an inclusive instructor according to SELF.
“Hatha tends to move at a slower pace and poses get broken down in a little more detail,” Amanda Tripp, a certified yoga instructor from the Driven Yogi community says. For those who are more experienced, you might consider taking an introductory vinyasa or Ashtanga class as they tend to be more energetic and swiftly paced. Hot yoga is practiced in a heated space making the practice more difficult and is an excellent option for experienced yoga enthusiasts (in the absence of a pandemic at the very least).
Tripp recommends a beginner’s course that lasts between six and eight weeks can be an effective way to master basic yoga poses step-by-step. You’ll not only be taught basic Sanskrit terms and their meanings but, you’ll also get acquainted with breathing techniques and using props, such as straps and blocks.
If you’re able to schedule an online private session with the doctor. Yang also suggests working one-on-one with an experienced yoga instructor to customize the poses to your specific needs and objectives. “A yoga teacher is trained to notice imbalances in your body and make recommendations on where to find more balance and strength,” she states.
What is the best frequency you should be practicing yoga? There’s no one answer. It’s largely dependent on your workout routine and goals, Courtney says. If you’re trying to improve your yoga, then practicing it two or three times per week in your workout routine may be beneficial as suggested by Dr. Yang, though you may notice a significant improvement in your practice if you do it only once per week.
If you’re not keen to dedicate a substantial portion of your time working out for yoga practice, then you could integrate it into your routine for an opportunity to warm up or cool down. It’s especially beneficial in the latter because it triggers your parasympathetic nervous system which helps in lowering the heart rate and encouraging relaxation.
This is just one of the advantages that yoga can bring by incorporating it into your daily routine. There are other benefits of this ancient form of exercise that you must know about.
Physical Benefits of Yoga
1. Improves the quality of life for those suffering from chronic lower-back pain.If you sit at your table (or couch) all day long, you might be suffering from shoulder, low back, and neck pain as a result of poor posture. “Yoga improves posture, which can prevent low-back pain, as well as shoulder and neck pain,” Dr. Yang says.
Yoga helps relieve low back pain in two different ways One is the way that practices of meditation used in yoga promote relaxation from physical discomfort due to chronic back pain, in accordance with the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Additionally, there are the postures that are performed: Physical practice strengthens the core and improves stability, which is crucial for posture. It is among the primary methods of treating back pain.
In reality, a 2016 analysis of 27 research studies that were published in the Journal of Rheumatology and Orthopedics concluded that yoga is believed to be superior to the typical treatment method in reducing people’s perceptions about the severity of back pain with chronic low-back pain or how irritated they feel due to their discomfort.
2. Increases body awarenessWhen you put your body down to support all poses, you are activating an array of both large as well as small muscles. Yoga is also focused on correct posture, which means you must engage the appropriate muscles. This leads to an understanding of how your joints, muscles, and tissues interact. This will help you are moving safely, Courtney says.
“Yoga involves alignment as an exercise. We learn how to stack and align joints in order to maximize the efficiency of the muscles we have and release our energetic energy,” Dr. Yang declares. “More importantly, it builds awareness in our bodies so that we can participate in our lives with more physical freedom and less discomfort.”
For instance, when performing Tree posture, for example. This requires being able to balance on one leg and activating your quads, thighs, and core to assist you to remain upright and prevent falling over. This makes you more aware of the position of your hips, ankles, and shoulder joints and how they’re supported by ligaments and tissues to maintain balance and alignment.
3. Fighting fatigueIf you move – like when you do some yoga exercises throughout the day, your heart circulates more oxygen-rich blood to the organs and muscles in your body. This may help to lessen fatigue and fatigue, as per the International Sports Science Association.
A brief study published in the Journal of Science in Medicine in Sport suggests that practicing Bikram yoga has been linked to improved energy and levels of stress. If stressed and sedentary adults participated in an intensive 16-week Bikram yoga course and reported improvement in their perceived stress, energy levels, and fatigue levels as well as higher overall health-related satisfaction in living. Researchers also observed similar benefits to combat fatigue in the Hatha practice.
Inversion poses – where your heart is on an elevated level over your head — can be extremely beneficial in increasing your energy levels, says Courtney. This includes poses such as Forward Fold or Downward Face Dog.
4. Balance promotesYoga poses that balance like Warrior III Chair, Eagle, Tree, and Crow can test your balance, as removing any support from a base (say by being on your feet for a while) will require you to engage the muscles that stabilize you. This improves the balance of your body and is crucial as you age.
As they age, people are more likely to lose mobility due to arthritis, inactivity, and other aging-related diseases. But research has shown that some yoga-related exercise is connected with improved mobility and balance in people who are over 60.
A better balance could mean an increase in the risk of injury as well as an increase in athletic efficiency, according to Dr. Yang. Because when you’re in greater balance, you’ll be more aware of firing the correct muscles that will help you maintain stability. Consider the single-leg deadlift When you’re able to engage the right muscles–your lats, core, and the glutes of your working leg, you’ll be able to complete the lift more efficiently as well as help gains strength.
5. Eases you into regular exerciseIf you’re new to exercising–or getting back into a fitness routine after a break, vigorous workouts might not be the most appealing option. This is why many who want to begin exercising turn to yoga. It’s a moderately-impact exercise that is gentle to do on joints, is suitable for all levels of fitness, and doesn’t require any special equipment.
It’s an exercise that you’re more likely to keep to and maintain a habit of doing. According to the results of a study of active adults published in Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine, taking yoga classes two times a week significantly increased the frequency of exercise, a result that was evident even after the participants had stopped attending classes in the study.
6. Improves the health of your heart, a review published in 2014 by The European Journal of Preventive Cardiology concluded that yoga had shown positive effects in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease by slowing blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol. This is likely due to the physical aspect of yoga and the emphasis on breathing.
It’s because yoga strengthens the vagus nerve, the principal nerve that controls the parasympathetic nervous system – which is the part that is responsible for lowering heart rate and relaxing the body- to be more attentive to your breathing as Dr. Yang says. “The very function of your heart may improve.”
7. Reinforces better breathingIf you follow a yoga routine in as little as five minutes and you’ll see how relaxing and calming it can be to synchronize breathing and movement. When you stretch more deeply during each posture you’ll be relying on your breathing to hold your posture in the correct way.
“Yoga is a method of practice that involves diaphragmatic breathing. In this practice, you concentrate on expanding your diaphragm as you breathe. The focus causes the diaphragmatic muscles, which makes them stronger so that the lungs are able to draw more oxygen and grow stronger,” Dr. Yang clarifies. “The vagus nerve actually runs through the diaphragm, and the movement of the diaphragm around the vagus nerve stimulates the parasympathetic response, allowing the rest-and-digest response to be more accessible to us.”
This breathing technique can be easily translated into something you can use in everyday life, especially in stressful situations or in other forms of exercise.
8. Strengthens the bodyAlthough yoga isn’t renowned to build strength similar to how lifting weights is, moving through the poses can provide you with the same benefits as performing bodyweight exercises. For instance, holding the chair pose is similar to doing a squat, and moving across chaturanga requires performing the Plank or push-up.
“The poses we practice may look easy, but holding them for longer periods of time is actually a workout in itself,” Courtney claims. If you practice more vigorous asanas such as vinyasa or Ashtanga and you could experience the benefits of strength building faster.
Based on the type of yoga you’re doing the benefit of building muscle is most likely due to the isometric hold. Isometric exercises, like the Plank, involve contracting the muscle or group of muscles without moving the joint that surrounds the muscle. This makes this kind of exercise perfect for people recovering from injuries or having joint problems according to the Mayo Clinic. While isometric exercises may not be the best for building larger muscles, they are crucial for increasing muscle fitness and endurance.
9. Enhances flexibility is the measure of how much your muscles are able to extend or lengthen, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Yoga improves your flexibility, by helping your muscles relax by stretching gently, Tripp says.With greater flexibility, you’ll be able to increase your fitness level overall. “For muscles to fully contract they must be able to stretch completely. Training in flexibility can assist you in gaining access to the full range of motion and allow muscles to function more efficiently,” Tripp explains. “Limited range of motion can limit your abilities in certain movements.”
A lack of flexibility in your ankle motion will severely hinder the ability to squat, Tripp says. However, if you are able to perform squats with a full range motion (parallel or less than parallel) then you will be able to recruit the glute muscles more efficiently and load more resistance, which leads to more strength gains.
Greater flexibility could also translate to an increased chance of injuries. For instance, the pectoral muscles that are tight (the muscles that line your chest) could make your shoulders sway upwards, causing your shoulder to move away from its normal position, Tripp says. If you put weight on the joint that’s not properly aligned, for instance when you’re doing chest presses during an upper-body exercise and you’re at risk of injury.
10. Improves sleepWith improved breath and relaxation techniques, Yoga could aid in getting more sleeping time in the evening. According to a meta-analysis involving 19 studies previously published about women suffering from sleep issues Yoga was associated with better scores on tests of the quality of sleep. The more time you spent in yoga, the greater results were.
If you’re practicing late at night you might want to avoid more vigorous yoga, as it can cause you to be awake. These stretches before bed can get you ready for a restful night’s rest.