If you’re reading this article, the chances are that you are familiar with yoga, or keen to try it for the first time. For the latter, don’t be nervous if the word ‘yoga’ conjures up images in your mind of long-limbed individuals bending in all sorts of positions! The good thing about this ancient practice is that it’s suitable for most people due to it being a non-strenuous, but highly effective form of exercise.
The best way to describe yoga is a practice that connects the body, breathing and the mind to energise the whole person. Although no one knows exactly how long ago it first began, stone carvings depicting figures in yoga positions have been found in Indus Valley archaeological sites dating back over 5000 years. It is thought that yoga then went over to the United States as early as the 1800s, being brought over by a Swami and then passed down from teacher to student over generations. It remained relatively unknown until the swinging 1960s when American youth culture was strongly influenced by eastern traditions.
Since then, as more and more people have become aware of the countless benefits that yoga provides, it is even recommended by doctors to treat certain conditions and for stress management. There are numerous types of yoga, the most popular ones you may have heard of being Hatha, Ashtanga, Bikram and Kundalini.
So why take up yoga? Well the benefits are so extensive with physical, mental and spiritual effects on the body I don’t know where to begin! Here are my top 10 reasons for welcoming yoga into your life…
1- Relief of aches and pains
Regular yoga exercise has been proven to reduce types of back and muscle pain, and by increasing your flexibility, strength and improving your posture, you can also prevent it in the future.
2- Builds up body strength
You may think that yoga is simply for relaxing and stretching, but as it uses all of the body’s muscles from head to toe, it will in turn support your skeletal system. You will notice this in positions like the Tree Pose, where you will learn to support the weight of your body in new ways.
3- Weight loss
Certain types of yoga, for example Power Yoga, can have a cardio effect which encourages fat burning. In addition, yoga can aid digestion and lower cortisol levels in the body reducing food cravings. Actress Naomi Watts praises yoga for helping to lose her weight after pregnancy, and many celebrities such as Desperate Housewives beauty Eva Longoria and singer Jennifer Lopez rave that it helps maintain their Hollywood figures.
In yoga you will be introduced to meditation and breathing techniques which will help you to disengage from your thoughts and calm the mind.
When you first begin, don’t worry if you are not even able to touch your toes! As you progress, yoga poses will enable you to lengthen the muscles and ligaments of your body
6- Immune booster
Through relaxation, the nervous system of the body can tell the immune system to calm down or be stimulated depending on the situation. Why not see if you can fight off that winter cold?
7- Lowers blood pressure
Studies show that yoga reduces blood pressure, (hypertension) by bringing down the heart rate and eliminating stress which is also a factor.
8- Improved memory and concentration
Yoga improves the blood circulation to the brain meaning that it will function better, and meditation will also increase your mind’s focus.
9- Sleep better!
The breathing and meditation techniques that you will learn in yoga help to de-clutter the mind, especially useful if your insomnia is stress-related. The gentle physical exercise that yoga provides will also aid your night’s sleep.
10- Overall sense of peace!
This covers every aspect of yoga, mind, body and spirit; and is something you will no doubt feel when you begin your yoga journey.
Here at Evolve Wellness our philosophy to health is as follows:
Great Health and Well Being = Yoga + Meditation + Stress Relief + Good Nutrition
So now you know the reasons why the art of yoga continues to gain popularity, why not start the New Year off with a healthy body and mind and give it a try?