Recently, the gym I work at has started to offer yoga classes a few times a week for the members. After seeing how well my group class has benefited from just 10 minutes of yoga three times week, we felt everyone would benefit from a full hour of this amazing stress relieving, rejuvenating practice. So you can imagine my shock when I overhead someone say “yoga just isn’t a good workout”. Not only can yoga be one of the toughest full body workouts you will experience and be a great tool to help you improve in those areas of fitness that you do love, it is also much more than a physical practice. The benefits of yoga extend to our mental and medical health.
When we hear the word yoga we automatically think of someone bending themselves into awkward shapes that make us sore just by looking at them. We think we are not flexible enough to do yoga or that it’s boring because of the slow pace and mellow atmosphere. I’m happy to say, we couldn’t be further from the truth. With so many different styles of yoga, you are bound to find the perfect fit for your personality. Ever hear of power yoga? Try not sweating in that class! Yoga can be done in so many different ways you may not even know you’re doing it. Among the Crossfit community, a new regimen termed ROMWOD, Range of Motion, Workout of the Day, was formed by two brothers to “trick” people into doing yoga. ROMWOD takes principles from yoga that will prepare people to perform their workouts with less joint pain, better mobility and quicker recovery. Tell me that doesn’t sound appealing!
Extending beyond fitness, yoga has been shown to have tremendous health benefits. Lower blood press, improved blood circulation and even lower anxiety and depression for regular practitioners are just a few. With 3.3 million Americans suffering from an anxiety disorder, giving yoga a try couldn’t hurt. This ancient practice teaches us to relax our mind, and let go, something that seems almost impossible if you suffer from anxiety. Learning to focus on our breathing is one aspect of yoga, this “yoga breath” or “belly breathing” as it has been called, carries over into our daily living which allows us to experience the calm feeling we have during our yoga practice.
Since the benefits of yoga reach us on both a physical and mental level, the benefits of this ancient practice can be felt by those with many different medical conditions. People with autoimmune disorders have also been shown to improve both their physical symptoms and mental health by par taking in one of the many forms of yoga. A study done by Harvard, funded by the US Department of Defense has proven the yoga benefits on those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Yoga has evolved to suit each one of us and our unique styles. Don’t let the stigma of this once perceived aloof practice to keep your from experiencing the endless benefits it has to offer. With such a wide spectrum of approaches and applicability there is something for all us. So give it a try, what do you have to lose?