Contrary to what some may believe about yoga, it isn’t only for those who are fit and flexible. Yoga doesn’t discriminate and is a practice that greatly benefits anyone who participates. You can be old, young, flexible, stiff, underweight, overweight, tall or short. Yoga is for everyone!
There are many benefits to practicing yoga. Many people who regularly practice yoga say that the mental and physical rewards are life changing. How is it life changing? Let’s look at some of the many benefits of practicing yoga.
Increases Blood Flow and Circulation
Participating in yoga and regular stretching exercises gets your blood flowing. It also helps with increasing levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells, which are responsible for carrying oxygen to your body’s tissues. One of the benefits of improved circulation is that it allows for more nutrients to get to your muscles. Another benefit may be quicker healing of injured muscles due to injury.
Promotes Healthy Bones
Many yoga positions are weight-bearing exercises. Weight bearing exercises help strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis. Yoga also helps alleviate stress through lowering levels of cortisol (a stress hormone), which is also believed to help bones retain calcium.
Relaxes the Mind & Body
Practicing yoga involves focusing on your breath and concentrating on the present. Shifting your body’s balance from the sympathetic nervous system—which is commonly referred to as the fight-or-flight response—to the parasympathetic nervous system. This is calming and therapeutic. Physically being able to relax tight muscles and release tension also helps reduce stress and offers a feeling of calmness and serenity.
Improves Flexibility While Building Muscle
As you age your muscles become tighter and shorter, possibly resulting in more injuries. The stretching done in Yoga helps lengthen muscles and keep them loose and limber helping to prevent injuries. Improving muscle strength also helps protect your body against arthritis and back pain.
Increases Range of Motion
Joints are starting to bother you? It can help to get up and move! Why is this? Stretching and practicing yoga will help keep your joints, tendons and ligaments lubricated. This helps to not only improve your range of motion but in preventing cartilage and joint breakdown as well.
Having tight muscles contributes to having poor posture. Stretching helps better the alignment in your back and improve posture. Why is this important? Having poor posture can contribute to a variety of common ailments including muscle and joint problems as well as back and neck pain. As your body slumps, it compensates for the misalignment by flattening the normal curves of your neck and lower back, which can lead to pain and sometimes degenerative arthritis of the spine.
Aids in Protecting Your Spine
The bending and twisting movements that are a part of practicing yoga help protect your spine. They help keep the shock absorbers between your vertebrae flexible and as a result, they are less likely to tear or become injured.
Enhances the Functionality of Your Immune System
There is scientific evidence to support that meditation—the act of focusing your mind—can help improve immune function. In yoga, the act of meditation comes from being able to take time out of your day to quiet the busy mind. Quieting your mind allows you to be completely present in order to make the mind to body connection that is required in yoga.
The physical movements involved in yoga also contribute to boosting immunity. As you participate in various yoga movements your muscles contract and stretch, which helps the lymphatic system fight infections, destroy cancerous cells and dispose of waste products.
Additional Benefits of Practicing Yoga
There is also evidence that yoga can lower blood pressure, minimize anxiety, help with insomnia, reduce depression, prevent IBS and other digestive issues and much more. If you are skeptical, try one yoga class per week, you may be surprised at the benefits you will start to notice!
If interested in taking yoga, the Redwood Club in Petaluma offers a variety of classes. For a description and schedule of all of our Yoga classes, please visit our website or call 707-778-8788 to speak with one of our fitness club representatives.