Originating in India over 5,000 years ago, yoga is designed to focus on breathing, strength and flexibility. Whilst for many it is a practice and routine in its own right, it can also be incorporated into other exercise routines and workouts to aid training and improve our physical health and mental wellbeing.
Yoga doesn’t just impact our physical appearance either, in fact, one of the biggest components of yoga is the calm and clarity it brings to our minds with many using yoga to alleviate stress and depression too.
If you still aren’t convinced to join the yoga bunnies, then here’s why yoga is your workouts new best friend.
What is Yoga?
Essentially, yoga improves core strength, increases flexibility, and provides inner calm by enabling you to focus on your breathing. Postures are created by completing a range of movements, all with a different purpose to them; from helping your arms, back, stomach, heart and even your bladder – there’s a yoga pose to help every ailment.
Flexibility – it’s the most obvious benefit of yoga, and whilst during your first class you may struggle to touch your toes it does become easier with regular practice.
Starting slowly, you’ll soon increase the range of poses you can complete without feeling too much of a burn as your flexibility increases. Regular aches will soon start to be a thing of the past, as your body begins to loosen up tight muscles will increase their flexibility.
Strength – strengthening our muscles, yoga helps to balance out increased flexibility by strengthening muscles to control the range of movement you have when you complete yoga poses.
Strong muscles can help to reduce our chances of back pain and prevent conditions from arthritis developing. Strength in yoga is built by using your own body weight to support and resist movements, which in turn increases strength.
Posture – yoga is all about focusing on your core, and when you stand tall you should imagine an invisible piece of string pulling you up through the top of your head to ensure your posture is strong, lean and tall.
Your head should ideally be balanced directly over your spine, to avoid straining your back and neck muscles. Slouching is a big no-no too, as your body slumps forward you flatten the inward curve of the neck and lower back which in turn causes pain.
Injury Prevention – yoga is also great at prevent injuries and aiding recovery time, so incorporating yoga into your usual exercise program can not only help you to heal better, but also perform better too.
Through increasing your strength and flexibility, yoga helps to highlight areas of your body which may be underworked in your other workouts. By allowing you to focus your time on developing unattended muscles, they will soon function to the best of their ability.
What else? – Well, yoga has also been proven to improve immunity, eases migraines, helps you to sleep better and fights food cravings in some studies.
Adding it to Workouts
The practice of yoga is primarily based on stretching and poses, making it a great exercise to incorporate into workout routines. With a range of poses which benefit different parts of your body you can ensure each muscle group is stretched before you begin your workout or during your cool down.
Bridge (Bandha Sarvangasana) – opening up your hips, the bridge pose strengthens your spine whilst improving flexibility and relieving your body from stress and anxiety.
Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) – lengthening your spine, the downward dog pose also stretches your hamstrings and strengthen your arm. Known as an inverted position where you head is below your heart, you’ll be given a boost of energy and your blood circulation will also be improved.
Child Pose (Balasana) – with your knees tucked beneath you and your arms stretched over the top of your body, the child pose can help to relieve everyday stress often built up in your neck, back and hips.
Warrior Pose (Virabhadrasana) – Warrior poses are designed to strengthen legs and open up our chest and shoulders. Through a combination or stretch and strengthening benefits the warrior pose is consisted of movements and poses we wouldn’t usually use in our daily motion range.
Tree Pose (Vrksasana) – Another of the most iconic yoga poses, distributing your weight equally through your body with one leg ben underneath and hands in front of your chest, the tree pose helps to improve balance and strengthen the core.
Keeping fit should consist of a well-rounded exercise regime and incorporating yoga into your workouts will help to keep your whole body fit and healthy for many years to come. Our new yoga studio at our Peterborough clinic will give you the opportunity to experience yoga and just how beneficial it is for the body and soul.