Too often, when we hear about people doing yoga, we think, That’s for people who are already really flexible and in shape. Luckily, nothing could be further from the truth.
Yoga, which has its origins in the Sanskrit word for yoke, is a system of poses and postures that helps people unify their physical, mental, and sometimes spiritual selves. More plainly put: Yoga is about reconnecting with your body and mind so that you can be more self-aware. (Side note: while yoga has its origins in Hinduism, it does not need to have a strictly religious component.)
Like other forms of physical activity, yoga is something to be practiced. It’s not a performance, and people of all ages, body sizes and types, and genders can reap the benefits that yoga provides. Let’s take a closer look at some of those benefits to understand exactly why anyone can and should practice yoga.
Greater Flexibility & Strength
One of the key benefits of practicing yoga is increasing both your flexibility and strength. In fact, those two things go hand-in-hand with each other. Flexibility is an essential part of maintaining good posture and can help with resilience when recovering from an injury. Being flexible relies in part on having strong muscles.
Notice that we didn’t say toned muscles. It’s entirely possible to possess significant muscle strength without necessarily being toned, which has more to do with the amount of fat tissues around your muscles.
In fact, anyone who suffers from conditions that affect flexibility, such as certain types of arthritis, can dramatically improve comfort and reduce pain using yoga. By strengthening core muscle groups through yoga practice, you can have essentially build physical resistance to the effects of those conditions.
Lower Heart Rate
In our busy lives, it can feel like we’re racing against the clock to get everything done, work, school, kids, activities, healthy eating, etc. And the more we race, the faster our heart beats. While stress is good for us, over time, a perpetually fast-racing heart can cause a variety of health issues, such as heart disease.
One key part of yoga practice is focusing on the breath, noticing how it flows in and out, and how our body reacts to slow, steady breathing. Closing our eyes and paying attention solely to our breath helps us reach a calmer state of mind, but it can also help lower heart rate, ultimately helping to reduce risk of dangerous heart conditions.
Improved Bone Density
This one’s particularly important for people facing age-related bone issues. As we get older, our bones tend to lose density. This often results in frailer bones that are more susceptible to fractures and breakages. One study, however, found that people who practiced yoga regularly for as little as 10 minutes per day actually gained in bone density over a two year period. While the number of people involved in this study was relatively small, its results certainly suggest that yoga can have a lasting, positive, effect on your bones.
No matter what your age is, it’s clear that yoga can help you live a healthier life. Interested in learning more about yoga? Contact us to discuss ways in which yoga can help improve your body, mind, and general sense of well-being.