5 reasons why yoga is sooo good for you
OK, so – as you know – I AB-SO-LU-TELY love my job. I feel incredibly blessed for being able to make a living out of my passion. Imagine spending your time and energy on something that fills your heart and fulfils your soul AND getting paid for it? Seriously. Pinching myself over here. I also feel incredibly grateful that I have the opportunity to share the transformational benefits of yoga with my yogis – my wonderful and talented students from every age and every walk of life.
1. Yoga relieves stress
Most of you practice yoga regularly, so you probably already know how much calmer and more balanced you feel after a session. It’s a fact that yoga helps beat stress. When you encounter a stressful situation, the brain releases adrenaline into your system to help you either fight or flee the threat. This causes your heart to beat faster and your blood pressure increases. While this response can help you protect yourself when facing a threat, living in a constant state of stress may have consequences on your cardiovascular system. Along with training your body, yoga trains your mind to see the bigger picture and act from integrity instead of freaking out. If you want to be more James Bond than Anne Hathaway in the Devil Wears Prada, get yourself on the mat. Being forced to unplug from texts, calls, and email for 60 to 90 minutes doesn’t hurt either, I promise.
2. Yoga makes your body flexible
Improved flexibility is one of the first and most obvious benefits of yoga. During your first class, you are probably not able to touch your toes, never mind do a backbend. But if you stick with it, you’ll notice a gradual loosening, and eventually you’ll start twisting like a pretzel (if that’s one of your yoga goals ;-)). You’ll also probably notice that aches and pains start to lessen, even disappear. That’s no coincidence, my dear…. Tight hips can strain the knee joint due to improper alignment of the thigh and shinbones. Tight hamstrings can lead to a flattening of the lumbar spine, which can cause back pain. And inflexibility in muscles and connective tissue, such as fascia and ligaments, can cause incorrect posture.
3. Yoga sculps your muscles and helps prevent injuries
Yoga lets you sculpt, tone, and mould your body using your body weight, instead of using weights to increase your muscle mass. This builds a leaner body, with more natural tone and definition. How many times have you heard me saying… “Listen to your body” … or …“Do as much or as little as your body tells you”… When practicing yoga, you have to honour your body’s particular needs and limitations. This simple ability to scan and assess yourself will help reduce injuries when playing other sports or carrying on with other daily activities. Plus, flexible, and correct well-stretched yoga muscles will heal and recover more quickly after working out or getting strained.
4. Yoga increases vitality and energy levels
Vitality or the vital force is the energy coming from the great central source of life called Prana. It is responsible for all activities in the body including breathing, metabolic functions, movement, pumping of the heart, brain activity, digestion, etc. Pranayama is the yogic technique of working with your basic vital energy or Prana. This Prana flows in the entire body through energy channels called Nadi or meridians. Practice of pranayama cleanses the energy channels and vitalises them. Practice of Bhastrika pranayam (bellow’s breath), Kapalbhati, Anuloma Viloma (Alternate nostril breathing), etc. removes the energy blocks and increases the oxygen levels in the blood, infusing the body with fresh energy.
5. Yoga is good for your heart
Yoga gets your blood flowing bringing more oxygen to your cells. Twisting poses are thought to wring out venous blood from internal organs and allow oxygenated blood to flow in once the twist is released. Inverted poses, such as Headstand (Sirsasana) and Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana), encourage venous blood from the legs and pelvis to flow back to the heart, where it can be pumped to the lungs to be freshly oxygenated. A recent research* suggests that Yoga could be as effective as cycling or brisk walks in reducing the risk of a heart attack or stroke. The studies, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, looked at different types of yoga, including both gentler and more energetic forms. The participants ranged from young, healthy individuals to older people with health conditions. Over all, people who took yoga classes saw improvements in a number of factors that affect heart disease risk. They lost an average of five pounds, shaved five points off their blood pressure, and lowered their levels of harmful LDL cholesterol by 12 points. I mean guys, doesn’t this sound great???!! The next time you see me smiling when practicing (or demoing) my poses, you know why. It’s all this goodness flowing through my entire body… ~Namaste.