Okay, it’s a given that I’m going to promote yoga on a fitness blog. And full disclosure: I’m the “bendy type.” But no matter how hard it gets to watch human pretzels “Ooooommm” and “Ahhhhh,” there’s lots of reasons to add yoga to your fitness program. And I’ve got ten perfectly good reasons for you to start today.
Madonna has moved on. Good news: you’ll no longer be derided as just another sheep. She’s like twenty trends ahead of you. Now you can keep doing it and really mean it when you say you’re doing it for the health benefits.
You don’t have to buy shoes. I once had a coworker who told me “I only do Pilates and Yoga, so I don’t have to spend money on expensive shoes.” While I totally disagree with her criteria for choosing a workout method, I can’t fault her for being thrifty.
It’s a great way to ease into weight training. Downward Facing Dog, Plank Pose and Side Plank Pose work the upper body. Tree, Triangle and Warrior I and II work the legs. For strong abs, go with Cat-Cow, Plank or Boat Pose.
You won’t hear the “no pain no gain” mantra during class. In fact, no matter how you do a pose, the instructor will give you lots of encouragement. It’s kind of like kindergarten with sitar music.
You can do it at your desk. If you don’t have time to change and get down to a class, there are plenty of stretches that you can do at your desk. In fact, one of the healthiest ways to deal with a stressful working environment is to close the door, take a seat and stretch out your body.
It’s cleansing. Yoga helps cleanse the lymphatic system and remove waste from our cells. The empasis on deep full breathing also means that you’ll improve the amount of oxygen to your lungs and the expulsion of carbon monoxide.
The body benefits. Yoga stretches and loosens all of the soft tissue of the body, including tendons, muscles and ligaments. Most new practicitioners see the most improvement in flexibility in the trunk and sholders.
The mind benefits as well. there is a decrease in catecholamines, the hormones produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. Lowering levels of hormone neurotransmitters — dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine — creates a feeling of calm. Some research points to a boost in the hormone oxytocin. This is the so-called “trust” and “bonding” hormone that’s associated with feeling relaxed and connected to others
It will help your posture. The standing and sitting poses put a demand on your abdominal muscles, which in turn aids in your posture. The increased awareness of the body also causes you to think about your body during the day. A slouched or collapsed spine obstructs deep breathing, so while you’re working on the breath, you’re helping your spine to sit straighter.
It will aid with other medical conditions. Research is ongoing on the link between an ongoing yoga practice and a lessening of depression symptoms. Yoga is also credited for helping with the symptoms of asthma, back pain and arthritis. The NIH has recently funded studies on the effect yoga has on insomnia and multiple sclerosis.