This ancient practices of yoga and meditation have been a part of human culture for thousands of years. Surprisingly, many people are not aware of the benefits that even light yoga exercise provides for the body.
These benefits extend beyond flexibility and affect the entire body and mind.
First, yoga increases the flexibility of the body. This flexibility improves the strength of muscles and tendons.
The fluid motions of yoga poses provide postural strength without causing stress on joints like the knees and shoulders. With proper practice, yoga works each muscle in every direction. This means that your body is provided with a balanced workout.
Yoga also benefits the cardiovascular system. Some yoga poses are shown to lower blood pressure and triglycerides. Inverted poses, like Downward Facing Dog, improve the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain.
Consistent practice of yogic exercise can slow your resting heart rate and cause your body to consume less oxygen. It also lowers respiratory rates because of the breathing exercises involved in many poses.
Your body learns to use oxygen more efficiently when you control your breathing. This combination of respiratory control and lower heart rate increases your cardiovascular endurance dramatically.
People who practice yoga daily also enjoy an improved digestive system. Although practicing yoga is not necessarily a fast way to lose weight, it creates a mentality which encourages healthy eating. Many people experience weight loss through their yoga exercise.
Pain tolerance is also increased through the slow stretching movements of yogic poses. Yoga is recommended by many physicians as a way to alleviate back, shoulder and neck pain.
Yoga is often prescribed with massage to treat chronic lower back pain.
Yoga increases core strength and lowers the amount of cellulite which accumulates around the muscle. Creating long and lean muscles tends to decrease total body weight.
Yoga also alters metabolism. Increasing the metabolic rate in the human body makes it much easier to maintain a healthy weight, especially as a person ages.
Yoga promotes restful sleep and peaceful moods. The combination of body, mind, and breathing exercises contribute to a more relaxed state of being. Along with a lowered heart rate and blood pressure, this state provides a boost to your immune system.
Yoga is used to help strengthen a person’s immune response. The inclusion of meditation in yoga practice creates a peaceful feeling throughout the body and mind. This peace can help to elevate mood and lower cortisol levels in the body.
Many people who practice yoga feel a sense of connection with their body that is not attained through any other type of exercise.
Yoga is good for the mind as well as the body. The combination of meditation and exercise creates an improved connection between the mind and body.
This helps to improve memory retention, coordination and balance.
Yoga is truly an exercise for all ages.
Choosing A Yoga Class
It seems that everyone has a different idea about which yoga class is the best. If you ask a few friends, you are likely to get several different answers.
Lately, yoga classes seem to be popping up in every gym and community center. This gives you a spectacular opportunity to give yoga a try.
Choosing the right class for you will take just a little patience.
When picking an instructor for any learning experience, it is always advantageous to ask questions. While you are choosing your new yoga class, consider talking to the instructor prior to joining the class.
So, before sign up for yoga classes, ask the teacher these three questions.
How long have you been teaching yoga?
Find out is she is a professional instructor or if she has just recently joined the ranks of yoga teachers. Make sure that she has experience with your chosen style of yoga. Let her know why you are considering joining her class.
Explain to the instructor that your goal is weight-loss or relaxation, so that she knows what you expect from her class. The Yoga Alliance recommends that all instructors have at least 200 hours of training prior to teaching.
If she does not meet these minimum standards, it might be time to search for another class.
How large are your yoga classes?
Learning complicated poses in a class of fifty students can be intimidating. If many of the students are more advanced than you are, how will you keep up with the class?
Large classes might make you feel a little more comfortable if you are the type to blend into the background.
Small classes give the instructor more time to concentrate on each individual student. Choosing a smaller class might give you the results you are looking for, at a much faster rate.
Are you still actively practicing yoga outside of the classroom?
Yoga instructors should have a love of the discipline. If the instructor is into yoga purely to create a financial income, he or she is less likely to combine both the spiritual and physical aspects of yoga into a class.
To get the full benefit of yogic poses, the teacher must explain each step of the pose. Many poses include positions which stimulate the body and the mind. An excellent instructor understands the poses and explains them to the class.
The more she practices yoga, the better she becomes at understanding yogic principles.
It is also an excellent idea to audit at least one yoga session.
This will give you a chance to see how the instructor handles the class. Even someone who practices yoga on a daily basis might not be adept at teaching the skills.
A good teacher will build a relationship with each student. Yoga is not only a physical pursuit; it affects the mind, as well.
Having the right teacher you can trust is a wonderful way to begin the practice of yoga.