If you’re looking for a low-impact, holistic workout that can help you improve your health and feel more relaxed, try yoga.
Yoga is a form of exercise that includes breathing exercises (pranayama), postures and stretching movements. It also involves chanting, meditation and relaxation, but the intensity of your practice depends on the style you choose.
1. Increased Flexibility
If you have tight hips, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, or any other muscle group, then yoga can be a great way to improve your flexibility.
A recent study reveals that doing just one yoga class per week can result in improved flexibility and balance.
However, like all exercises, results will vary depending on your age and the intensity of your practice.
Despite this, yoga can still be a great way to increase your flexibility over time.
You can try yoga poses that focus on stretching different parts of your body, such as seated forward bends that work on the hips and legs. Standing back bends and shoulder stretches can also be beneficial.
If you’re a beginner, starting with simple poses can help you build confidence on the mat. The key is to stick with the practice and progress slowly, says registered yoga teacher Katy Brandt of Lotus Blooming Yoga.
2. Strengthened Muscles
Yoga can be a great way to strengthen your muscles.
Compared to gym workouts that involve heavy weights, yoga is a low-impact exercise that’s gentle on joints and improves flexibility. It can even improve strength and endurance in some people.
Functional strength – As opposed to isolated movements that are found only in the gym, most yoga asanas incorporate dozens of muscle groups in one position. This creates a holistic functional strengthening that’s difficult to replicate.
Balanced exercises – Yoga sequences are designed to balance every movement with a similar one. This makes them a good addition to a strength training routine as they’ll help to keep your body in sync and prevent injury.
For a full-body activation, try chair pose (Utkatasana) or tree pose (Vrikshasana). Both of these poses work the thighs, quads, and core, while also challenging the arms.
3. Improved Balance
One of the most important skills that you can develop during a yoga workout is balance. It’s essential for many activities – like walking, getting out of bed, and even sitting in a chair – so it’s great to have some solid balancing skills under your belt!
Balancing poses in yoga improve your balance by strengthening and developing the muscles needed to stay centered. This skill is also useful outside the yoga studio, helping you to remain calm and focused in stressful situations.
Practicing balance yoga poses can help strengthen the outer hips and glutes, which are crucial to one leg balances like airplane and warrior 3. Strengthening these muscle groups requires focus and commitment.
4. Reduced Stress
Stress is a natural feeling we all have, but it can build up and become an overwhelming factor in our lives. It can affect your mood, your sleep, your appetite, your irritability, and your physical health.
Yoga is a great way to reduce your stress because it helps you relax and release tension in your body. You also focus on breathing, which helps to calm your mind.
Another way that yoga can help reduce your stress is by boosting your brain’s ability to manage stress, which is especially helpful for people with anxiety or depression. The practice can also increase your levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is associated with lower stress and helps regulate mood.