Improve Your Wellness With a Yoga Workout

A yoga workout can be a good way to improve your strength, balance and flexibility. It also reduces your stress level and boosts your mood.

Bridge pose is a good way to explore backbends and is often done in flow yoga classes multiple times throughout the class. If you find this pose too intense, try a supported version with a block.

1. Increased flexibility

Yoga is often perceived as stretching and not as a workout. However, regular practice can significantly increase flexibility and enhance other aspects of wellness such as strength and balance. Whether you attend an intense vinyasa class or a relaxing yin yoga session, yoga will help you strengthen and stretch muscles in all parts of the body. This is because yoga targets both major muscle groups and deeper-seated stealth muscles.

Beginners should start with poses such as the cat-cow stretch, which stretches the back and spine. It also helps to reduce low-back pain and improve posture. The seated forward bend (janu sirsasana) is also good for stretching the hamstrings, which tend to get tight in people who sit for long periods of time.

The intensity of yoga depends on the type of class and your current fitness level. Classes that are geared toward getting your heart rate up will burn more calories than others. Generally, 20 minutes of a yoga workout should be enough to satisfy your fitness needs.

2. Strengthened muscles

Yoga is often thought of as a great way to improve flexibility, but it can also strengthen muscles. The tensile force exerted on muscle fibers during exercise causes them to break down and then repair themselves, which increases muscle size over time. The balancing movements in yoga, as well as the use of gravity to help with positioning, also strengthen muscles.

Some classes can also provide a good aerobic workout, depending on the style of yoga and the pace. Some classes incorporate a lot of eccentric contraction (when the muscles lengthen, such as when you lower yourself into warrior 3). Eccentric training has been shown to be better for building muscle size than concentric training.

However, if you want to grow your muscles larger, you’ll need to pair yoga with resistance training that uses progressive overload to increase difficulty over time. Adding weights to your routine will allow you to lift higher amounts of resistance, which leads to more muscle growth.

3. Reduced stress

While it’s hard to give your mind and body a break from the daily grind of work, family life, financial responsibilities, relationships and more, yoga is one activity that can help you slow down. Stress and anxiety can be overwhelming, and the practice of yoga helps to calm the nervous system and reduce stress hormone levels in the blood.

Yoga also helps you to breathe deeper and more regularly, which can improve your oxygen uptake. It also thins the blood, which may help to prevent clots and heart disease. Researchers have found that regular yoga increases “baroreceptor sensitivity,” which helps the body sense imbalances in blood pressure and keep it in balance.

4. Improved sleep

If you’re looking for a way to improve your sleep, try adding yoga to your exercise routine. While all forms of physical activity are beneficial for sleep, yoga is uniquely suited to calm the mind and prepare the body for rest.

The combination of slow, gentle movements and controlled breathing are a great way to relax the mind and body and promote a more restful night’s sleep. In addition, certain poses like the Wind-Relieving pose can help alleviate bloating and gas that may cause you to toss and turn in bed.

If you’re interested in trying yoga for better sleep, it is important to choose the right type. Certain types of yoga can be more challenging and heart-pumping, so look for a class that focuses on relaxation and stretching. For best results, opt for a class that uses props to support the body and encourages diaphragmatic breathing. Try a class such as Restorative Yoga. These classes include postures held for up to 20 minutes to help you fully relax and prepare your body for sleep.