Running a household with kids and a small business on the side has left me running away from stress more often than I’d like. Stress is like a constant stalker that’ll sneak up on you when you least expect it. I’ve done my fair share of stress management over the years, from going to the gym to running half marathons –anything that can keep stress at bay and have the added benefit of making me healthy is a winner in my book.
I have been hearing much buzz over the health benefits of yoga for many years now, so I decided to ask a friend who’s into yoga and do a little digging myself to see why millions of people have transformed their lives for the better and have gone gaga over yoga.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient practice that originated from India over 5,000 years ago. It has many elements, the main ones being exercise, spirituality and meditation. Yoga as an exercise focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to boost your physical and mental wellbeing. Most yoga practices combine exercise and mediation to achieve better results using many different postures which practitioners need to master for the purpose of creating harmony and awareness in both mind and body.
Everyone is welcome to do yoga, regardless of gender, age, body composition and fitness level. Strength and endurance athletes can benefit from yoga because it helps stretch the muscles, tendons and ligaments. One of the advantages of doing yoga is flexibility, so be ready to be touch your toes when you start your yoga journey!
Different types of Yoga
Yoga comes in many different styles, but all of them carry the same core principles. For beginners, the recommended style is Hatha Yoga, which focuses on basic postures and moves along at a comfortable pace. If you find that you need something a little bit more intense, you can try the more advanced styles of yoga like Bikram yoga or “hot yoga” which uses more intermediate postures. The classes in hot yoga are set in rooms with temperatures raised to the 100’s! This is done so that the muscles stay warmed up for the duration of the session and to help the body eliminate toxins through sweat.
There’s also Power yoga, an advanced form of yoga adapted from Ashtanga yoga. Power yoga uses the same principles of flexibility, relaxation and meditation, but does the postures and poses much longer than traditional styles of yoga. With the added time under tension of the muscles during the holds, power yoga helps improve strength, increase endurance and build lean muscle.
Benefits of doing Yoga
Yoga has a myriad of health benefits, from improving strength to soothing anxiety. A dear friend of mine who’s into yoga, told me that she was so interested to do it back then because of chronic back pain, she went out of her hotel room to find a yoga teacher in London while she was on vacation. Her little yoga hunt abroad paid off, because that little session felt like heaven touched her back and she’s been hooked on yoga since. Other known benefits of yoga according to the American Osteopathic Association are:
• Increased flexibility
• Increased muscle strength and tone
• Improved respiration, energy and vitality
• The maintenance of a balanced metabolism
• Weight reduction
• Cardio and circulatory health
• Improved athletic performance
• Protection from injury
It’s hard not to fall in love with an exercise routine as complete as yoga. It combines most everything busy mommies like us need: relaxation, meditation, flexibility and improved wellbeing. A one hour yoga session burns 350 calories or more, so that’s a definite plus! If you’re feeling stressed out and have aches and pains all over your body due to lack of exercise, maybe it’s time to give yoga a try. After all the research I did, I know I will!