What Can Yoga Do For You?February 2nd, 2014 by David
From models to footballers, everyone seems to be raving about the life changing benefits of yoga. Gone are the stereotypical hippy associations with this addictive physical and meditational practice. Let’s take a look at what yoga could do for you…
Flex! Improving flexibility is one of the more obvious benefits of yoga. This is what gives its age defying and career elongating powers for those athletes with a typically short professional span, such as footballers or sprinters. In fact, international footballer Ryan Giggs credits his inspiring career longevity to his frequent yoga sessions keeping him supple at 40 and far less injury prone.
Yoga has a unique ability to build flexibility as well as strength and tone. Strong muscles help protect the joints and body systems from conditions such as arthritis from developing. Yoga strengthens without subjecting the joints to wear and tear.
One of the central focuses of yoga is standing tall with your head held high. Seen as we naturally tend to slump, this helps to engage muscles that we wouldn’t normally call upon and promotes improved posture. This helps to alleviate back and shoulder pains, knots in the muscles and carries the additional bonus of making us appear taller and leaner!
Yoga works all of your joints to their full capacity and range of motion, without impact. This can help prevent degenerative joint conditions such as arthritis because it squeezes and soaks cartilage areas which ordinarily will be neglected. Cartilage is a bit like a sponge – it is replenished with nutrients only when it is rinsed out to make room for fresh supplies to be delivered. If the cartilage is neglected and under-nourished it will wear thin and expose vulnerable bone underneath.
Yoga is not considered a particularly powerful tool when it comes to weight loss, but often this is because people are looking at it on a solely calorie-burn level. Although it may not torch calories in the same way a high cardio activity like running does, it does serve to sculpt the body and develop tone. Through gently developing muscle mass, yoga helps to increase BMI which in turn speeds up the metabolism, as muscle burns more calories simply to function than fat does. Also the meditative powers of yoga help to centre thoughts and equip you with a higher sense of self control. This coupled with the satisfaction that yoga bestows upon us helps to reign in cravings and banish the hankering to comfort eat, whilst intensive cardiovascular exercise actually stimulates the appetite.
Yoga helps us to manage our stress levels – the benefits of such is endless. From strengthened immunity to a healthier heart, stronger bones and more controlled weight management… We could go on and on. The meditation and controlled breathing that play leading roles in yoga practice are credited as filling the body with drops of calm and the mind with drops of clarity.
It is not just stress that yoga helps zap, but sadness too. Consistent yoga practice is shown to inhibit depression and increase serotonin levels – the happy chemicals in the body.
These are just some of the benefits of becoming a yoga bunny. Overall it is widely regarded as a wonderful tool in keeping the body and mind in optimal shape and health. Sign up to a local class, invest in a few DVDs or surf through some free videos online – yoga is a perfect complementary practice to enhance your workout or increase your activity levels.