5 Reasons to Do Yoga to Improve Your Health
Wanting to exercise is great, but knowing where to start can be difficult. There are so many different types of physical activity that finding what’s right for you is an activity in itself.
But good news! Whether you’re looking for a standalone workout or supplement to your exercise routine, yoga just might be the answer.
The benefits of yoga impact your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. It’s an activity that’s both pro- and reactive, improving aspects of your health that you may have been neglecting while setting you up for a healthier future. Better yet, you can start at any age.
And that’s only the beginning.
1. Yoga is Exercise
Though it might just look like stretches, yoga really is a full-body, calorie-burning workout. In one half-hour session, you can burn anywhere from 120-180 calories, depending on your weight.
There are many benefits of doing yoga to stretch, too, but don’t discount the balance and strength you can build while moving through the various poses. The practice requires multiple muscle groups working together at once, often toning in some places and stretching in others.
As a result, you can feel its impact in only a few minutes; with regular practice, you’ll feel it forever.
2. Yoga Makes You More Flexible
In addition to building strength, yoga improves your flexibility over time. The poses can increase your range of motion, which is especially important as we get older when busy schedules make it difficult to dedicate time to exercise.
Stronger, more flexible muscles also set you up well for other types of exercise and help you avoid injury. There’s no downside to improved flexibility, so consider yoga to help get started.
3. Yoga Can Improve Your Posture
It’s no secret that sitting and standing for long periods can take more of a toll than you realize. The workaday lifestyle has led to more sedentary habits than ever, the health risks of which are still being understood. According to the Mayo Clinic, an analysis of 13 studies on sitting found that:
“…those who sat for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risks of dying posed by obesity and smoking.”
With all that in-mind, another reason for doing yoga can be found in the way it helps your posture.
Yoga poses aim to realign the body, often resulting in a straighter, stronger spine. So if you have to sit frequently for your job, yoga can at least make sure that your posture is strong and healthy. Since poor posture can lead to back pain down the road, yoga is a great way to stop the problem before it starts.
4. Yoga Can Help Your Breathing
Breathing is one of the essential aspects of yoga. Poses are meant to follow the rhythm of your breath, using cycles of deep inhaling and exhaling to bring oxygen to your muscles as you use them.
So personalize it and go at your own pace: move slowly to relax and more quickly to work up a sweat. Either way, you’re developing good breathing techniques that can be carried into many other fitness-oriented hobbies, as well as daily life.
5. Yoga Helps You Focus
The fifth benefit of yoga is the mindfulness it naturally creates. Moving through the poses and breathing correctly require a significant amount of attention, which challenges you to focus on where you are in the moment. As a result, you’re learning how to focus on what really matters, helping both your mental and physical health.
Bonus: Benefits of Yoga for Women
Yoga is a great workout for anyone and at any age. Women, in particular, can benefit from yoga in a variety of ways, in addition to those already mentioned.
Pregnancy can be tough on both your body and mind. Many women deal with feelings of postpartum depression after having a baby, and yoga can help. The breathing and focus that are naturally part of yoga work to balance new mothers’ sadness and anxiety, and it only takes a few minutes a day.
Though days get busier after your baby is born, short yoga practices also provide some “you” time. They’re a great way to ease back into a regular exercise routine. You can start slowly and work toward more difficult practices, reconnecting with your body and providing mental clarity along the way.
Regular yoga has been linked to increased bone density, which can help fight off osteoporosis. Since yoga practice can improve balance and coordination, you’ll also be protecting yourself from the osteoporotic injuries that often result from falling.
As mentioned earlier, yoga is great for stretching—and that applies as much to muscle soreness as to menstrual cramps. Some poses may help alleviate the painful side effects that many women experience with menstruation.
Plus, since yoga requires focus, it can help you take your mind off of what’s hurting. Find relief for both body and mind in yoga.
How to Commit to Practicing Yoga
When it comes to exercise, starting is the hardest part. Knowing the benefits of yoga is one thing, but committing to a regular routine is something else entirely.
Thankfully, there are so many different kinds that you’re sure to fall in love with at least one. Try hatha yoga to learn some introductory poses, vinyasa for more of a challenge, or restorative yoga after a long day. Explore the many types of yoga to find the one that suits you best.
Ready to get started with classes? Asking some friends to go with you and keep you accountable and consistently going at the same time every week are great ways to maintain your routine.
If you need help getting started—with yoga or exercise in general—staying at a health resort or fitness resort can get you on the path to wellness.