Yoga is an ancient practice that essentially helps unite and maintain a person’s consciousness, or soul, with the universe. While most people merely think of yoga as a physical exercise consisting of various movements and breathing techniques, it has emerged that its practice has numerous benefits in improving your overall health. Yoga mainly focuses to improve your mental and physical health through the use of various poses, postures and moves tailored to boost your strength, flexibility, and breathing. Yoga originated in India about 5,000 years ago and spread all over the world in a variety of ways. Currently, yoga is being practiced in various institutions including hospitals, health clubs, schools and health centers.
Health Benefits of Yoga
Numerous scientific studies have and are being carried out to find the health benefits that come with yoga. Many studies in the past indicate that yoga is safe and effective in boosting physical activity, particularly balance, strength, and flexibility. There is emerging evidence that people who practice yoga can alleviate symptoms associated with medical problems including anxiety, stress, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, pains and aches. Other benefits of yoga include:
Although most yoga poses are not strenuous enough to meet the government’s recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, it is an exercise that can help you meet the guidelines for muscle-strengthening activities when performed for at least two sessions every week.
Yoga poses can help lower the risk of falls, especially among the elderly, by improving balance and coordination. It strengthens the muscles of the lower body, such as on your ankles and knees, which lowers your risk of falling.
Improves Flexibility and Strength
Yoga is commonly practiced by people suffering from arthritis due to its easy and gentle way of boosting strength and flexibility. Studies have shown that yoga can be effective in alleviating pain and mobility problems in patients with osteoarthritis in the knees. Nevertheless, not all yoga moves are suitable if you are a victim of arthritis. Look for a trainer who is proficient in specific arthritis movements that are safe for your needs.
In reference to P. Murali Doraiswamy, M.D., professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University, “yoga produces a relaxation response that is comparable to the best anti-anxiety drugs currently on the market, and can be helpful in people with mild depression and insomnia. However, more studies on yoga are still required.”
What Are The Risks?
It is hard to find something beneficial to your health without the potential to put you at some risk depending on certain factors. When it comes to yoga, injuries may happen due to repetitive strain or overstretching. Just like any other exercise routine, yoga is safe if taught properly by professionals who have experience and who understand how it works. You can avoid injuries from yoga by joining an appropriate class under the supervision of a qualified yoga instructor.
Builds Core Strength
Yoga can help build core strength in your abdominals, lower back and all of the muscles around your trunk and pelvis. Yoga is great for targeting your core muscles because you will be using your own body weight during different poses. Building up your core is one of the key factors for increasing functional strength for daily activities like picking up your kids, carrying the groceries and moving things around the house. Watch the video below to get some other great ideas about exercises using added resistance that you can use to build strength and definition in your abs!
Best Yoga Poses To Boost Your Everyday life
There are numerous yoga poses that can boost the quality of your life if practiced on a regular basis. Here are 4 yoga moves that can improve your overall well-being:
#1 – Cat Pose
The cat pose helps to improve flexibility in your spine while strengthening your back and arms, and firming and toning the muscles at your back. Follow these steps to perform the cat pose:
- Start on your hands and knees on a flat surface, ensuring your knees are hip-width apart and directly beneath your hips.
- With your arms straight and below your shoulders, breathe in and arch your back backwards like an angry cat.
- Pull your stomach muscles in and upwards while tucking your chin in towards your chest. Round your back and tuck in your head as you breathe out.
- Repeat this pose a couple of times with a flowing tempo.
#2 – Bridge Pose
The bridge pose is a great way to stretch your spine and open up the front of your body. It also strengthens the muscles in your legs while addressing respiratory problems at the same time. To perform the bridge pose:
- Lie on your back on a mat with bent knees and place the soles of your feet firmly on the floor as near to your buttocks as possible. Ensure that your hands are straight and stretched towards your heels with your palms down.
- Inhale and lift your buttocks upward with your hips off the mat such that your body weight is supported on your shoulders and feet.
- As your arms remain on the floor, hold this position for a couple of seconds before returning to the starting position and then repeat several times.
#3 – Triangle Pose
The triangle pose helps to strengthen the muscles in your thighs, ankles, and knees. It is an ideal yoga move that is recommended for pregnant women who experience back pain. To perform the triangle pose:
- Stand with your feet apart and turn your right foot out at 90 degrees while the left foot faces straight ahead.
- Inhale and raise both arms to about shoulder level with your palms down. Exhale and bring your left arm down to your left foot with your hand inside the instep and your palm facing forward.
- Inhale as you raise your right arm vertically upwards above your head and look up towards your right arm, if possible. Alternate sides and repeat several times.
#4 – Lying Twist
The lying twist pose relieves tension in your back, shoulders, and neck. It also helps to define your waist and relieves pain in your lower back. To perform the lying twist:
- Lie on your back with your arms stretched straight out and your palms facing down.
- With your knees together, bring them towards your chest and twist slowly to either your right or left side until they reach the floor. Twist onto the other side ensuring that your knees remain attached.
- When making these twists, ensure that your shoulders remain on the ground, so your waist really feels the twist. If you move your legs to one side, turn your head to face the other direction.
If you are looking for a great way to boost your flexibility, improve balance and strengthen your muscles, try these yoga poses above which have been shown to be safe and effective. Yoga moves don’t necessarily require additional weights or equipment that can be difficult to deal with particularly if you are a beginner. It is always recommended to start yoga with the help of a qualified instructor to avoid injuries that some moves may cause. Check with your doctor first if you have issues with arthritis or experience joint pains or aches before enrolling in a yoga class.