For years, Yoga had a stigma attached to it, that it was a group of old ladies, laying around doing very little. However, over recent years, yoga has grown in popularity, and now athletes and celebrities of all ages are reaping the benefits yoga has to offer. So is Yoga alone, really enough to keep you fit?
It is often suggested that Yoga is a great addition to a fitness regime, due to the fact that many other workouts create tension in the body. This tension can be released during a yoga workout, through deep stretching and relaxation. Tight hips and hamstrings can often lead to back pain and bad posture. Tight shoulders can lead to stooping and back or neck pain. This can all have a knock on effect as we over compensate in other areas, making us look and feel old before our time.
Flexibility is one of the main benefits yoga offers, for sure. It slows down the ageing process, reducing the risks of pain and injury. As we age, muscles typically shorten and tendons typically tighten. Practising Yoga, deters this process, enabling our range of movement to remain greater, allowing us to excel at sports, and to enjoy the ease of everyday tasks into our old age.
Typically, when we speak of building muscle strength, we picture people training with heavy weights. However, it is not necessary to put your body under such stress. Weight training with your own body weight can build muscle strength, and increase muscle mass. Muscle mass works to regulate metabolism, burning calories and fat, therefore preventing obesity, diabetes, and other health issues.
As we age, muscle mass decreases, meaning we become weaker, and our metabolism slows. This is often the reason for falls, injury and weight gain later in life. Yoga prevents the deterioration of muscle mass, keeping us stronger and fitter for longer.
During Yoga practice, asanas (or poses), are often held for an extended period of time. Working our muscles in this way increases our endurance. Muscle endurance helps us with our balance and coordination. This makes everyday tasks easier as we often need to carry items from one area to another. It also works in the same way to prevent the deterioration of muscle mass.
The efficiency of your heart, is heavily impacted by the amount of cardio exercise you partake in. Cardio-respiratory fitness affects your heart, lungs and blood vessels, and is what improves your stamina. By improving your cardio fitness, you improve the efficiency of your blood being transported to your organs.
Yoga can improve your cardio fitness, without the need for running, jumping or cycling to assist. Studies show that the lung capacity of people practising yoga, increased substantially in a small period of time. Studies also prove that yoga participants have a greater anaerobic threshold than those who do not study yoga.
So it seems that yoga can benefit your body in more ways than you may ever have imagined. In addition to this, it can also promote mental well being and stress reduction, improved sleep quality and improved concentration, as well as many other benefits. Perhaps it's time to ditch the sweat and tears on your treadmill, and try the tranquillity of your yoga mat.
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