What are the health benefits of Yoga and how to get started?
Yoga originated in South Asia and while it is now a popular form of exercise the world over, this wasn’t always the case. It is a very old form of exercise that focuses on breathing, strength and flexibility to boost mental and physical health. The main components of yoga are postures and breathing. It has been adapted in many ways and into several “branches” each with some unique characteristics and aims.
Some of the more well know branches include: Hatha, Yin and Karma yoga.
Benefits of doing Yoga
While there may be a lack of high quality trials on yoga, most studies support it as a safe and effective way to increase strength, flexibility and balance. It has been suggested that it can help manage blood pressure, heart disease, back pain, depression and stress. It can help build lower limb strength and balance which can in turn prevent falls in people who are at risk.
Some research suggests that yoga helps with managing pain and poor mobility due to arthritis. Although some movements may be too difficult for those with more severe conditions, a good practitioner can guide someone new to yoga safely through a routine.
Other advantages of yoga perhaps over other forms of exercise, is that is very suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. As there are various branches and levels of difficulty, people of all levels of fitness can start doing yoga and continue as their fitness improves.
One common misconception about Yoga is that you need to be flexible to do it and this isn’t true – in fact those with less flexibility might benefit the most from doing it!
Anecdotally, in our clinic I hear clients talk of the many benefits of yoga in terms of improved mental well being. While others report it helps form part of their overall fitness regime which might include playing sports or gym training. The headspace offered in Yoga can be a great way to help quieten the mind which as many know, is important in managing stress and improving our overall health. A lot of clients I talk to have very little time to take a break from work and home life demands. Yoga might provide the much needed relaxation that is hard to find in our busy lives.
Rather than replacing your usual exercise with Yoga you might consider doing it in addition to your weekly exercise as a maintenance session I have begun doing this in recent months and can say it has helped me make the most of the other kinds of activity I usually do.
We are currently running Online Yoga classes at the clinic, please click here for more information.
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