Why you should try a Yoga Class.
Yoga has been around for decades and has had extensive research into the benefits it can bring to those practicing.
Many people are often only familiar with Yoga as a relaxation method for the mind. There are a number of other benefits that come from yoga, including physical benefits, which we will discuss in this article.
Firstly, what is yoga?
Yoga is a long existing science that involves practicing a series of ‘Asanas’ (or poses) and ‘Pranayana’ (breathing techniques) to promote a mind and body connection. There are a few different types of yoga, all differing slightly due to the origin and poses involved. The most common forms of yoga you may come across are hatha yoga, bikram yoga, power yoga and anusara yoga, however there are many other different varieties.
Hatha Yoga is a popular form of yoga which encompasses nearly all forms of modern yoga, which makes it perfect for beginners. Yoga classes typically run for 60 minutes but some varieties can go as long as 90 minutes. All are directed by an instructor who will either demonstrate the poses or talk you through the way your body should feel.
Classes are perceived to be low intensity but can actually be surprisingly challenging for the body as well as the mind.
The benefits of Yoga extend well beyond relaxation, including:
- Cardiovascular system (heart and arteries) – asanas (poses) are isometric, which means they rely on holding muscle tension for a short period of time. This improves cardiovascular fitness and circulation. Studies show that regular yoga practice may help normalise blood pressure.
- Digestive system – improved blood circulation and the massaging effect of surrounding muscles speeds up a sluggish digestion.
- Musculo-skeletal – joints are moved through their full range of motion, which encourages mobility and eases pressure. The gentle stretching releases muscle tension and increases flexibility. Maintaining many of the asanas encourages strength and endurance. Asanas may help prevent osteoporosis, and may also help those already diagnosed with osteoporosis, under the supervision of a qualified yoga teacher. Long-term benefits include reduced back pain and improved posture.
- Nervous system – improved blood circulation, easing of muscle tension and the act of focusing the mind on the breath all combine to soothe the nervous system. Long-term benefits include reduced stress and anxiety levels, and increased feelings of calm and well being.
- Lengthening of muscles- Yoga is particularly effective in stretching and lengthening the muscles, especially for those who frequently participate in resistance exercise. If you feel you are looking ‘bulky’, yoga will help to smooth the appearance of the muscle, giving a leaner, longer look.
Yoga is not just for the ladies, but men as well. Athletes or those who do repetitive exercises on a regular basis, or anyone with a sedentary job can benefit from putting the body through a full range of motion and strengthening areas that may be unbalanced, for example, the lower back in those who go heavy on the ab work.
Funlife runs a hatha yoga class on Tuesday evenings at 8pm. All are welcome, suitable for beginners too.