Yoga, an ancient practice and meditation, has become increasingly popular in today’s busy society. Historically yoga was more than just a method of movement. It was a way of life. You dedicated yourself to a lifestyle that surpassed the physical aspects, and included healthy eating habits, social interaction and meditation techniques. Yoga philosophy is rooted in a physical culture of health and well-being which is emphasised today in many classes and explains why over 15 million people across the world now practise this ancient tradition.
The benefits of yoga extend beyond burning calories and toning muscles, with many other physical and mental advantages gained from the total mind-body workout. And while you might be thinking ‘yoga isn’t for me’, ‘I’m not flexible enough’, ‘it’s too gentle and slow’, there are multiple forms of yoga practices, so you can find one that suits you.
The evidence-based benefits of yoga:
- Improved flexibility: whether the goal is to touch your toes, reduce the tightness in your hamstrings, or simply feel less stiff, yoga poses will help achieve this. Developing greater strength and flexibility in your muscles will reduce the risk of injury and enhance the movement of your joints, to help you perform better physically.
- Improved posture: as you become more flexible and your muscle tone and strength improve, your posture will too. Your abdominal and back muscles will better support you in sitting and standing tall, and your intrinsic awareness of body position will develop.
- Increased strength: all it takes is a few moments in downward dog pose to realise how much strength is required. Each pose requires an element of core strength, and challenging standing sequences help to build tone in the leg muscles. However, yoga uses body weight to strengthen, ensuring you are also isolating the smaller local stabilising muscles, and combining it with flexibility will help to reduce injuries.
- Improved sleep quality: yoga will help you to relax and unwind, helping you to fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and feel more rested when you wake up. Yoga has been shown to increase the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness.
- Reduced stress and anxiety: multiple studies have shown that yoga can decrease the secretion of cortisol, the primary stress hormone. Yoga helps to manage stress not only through movement, but by incorporating breathing techniques to draw your attention away from any ‘mind chatter’ and stay present in the moment.
- Improved concentration and focus: physical concentration is required as you bring focus to your breath and move through the sequences of poses. This can translate to activities off the mat, in your day to day life.
- Improved cardiovascular health: yoga poses rely on holding muscle tension for a short period of time, helping to improve circulation. Your lung capacity will increase as a result of the deep breathing process. Meditation and calming yoga practices can slow down your heart rate which in turn lowers your blood pressure and cholesterol.
Sarah completed her Ashtanga-vinyasa yoga teacher training at Abhinam Yoga School in North Goa. She is based out of Portishead and teaches a range of classes: vinyasa flow, restorative yoga, power yoga, alongside monthly wellness events. She also hosts 6-weekly Pilates Yoga brunches, involving a 90-minute class followed by a home-made 3 course vegan brunch. We are very lucky to also have Sarah teaching out of The Thornbury Clinic offering Pilates and Yoga classes on Monday and Thursday lunchtimes and evenings.
If you would like to book an appointment with Sarah just Click Here!