From its humble beginnings over 5000 years ago, Yoga has grown to become a global phenomenon. It originally began as a spiritual act of meditation. But today, it’s a holistic lifestyle choice for over 300 million practitioners across the world. It is easy to see why. Apart from its mental benefits, Yoga provides an array of purely physical benefits.
Its versatility and adaptability have made it a favorite for many fitness enthusiasts, who combine Yoga sessions with their weight training. So if you’re experimenting with new fun ways to keep fit, Yoga is a very good option to try out.
Below are some of the many ways Yoga helps you keep fit.
Yoga builds muscle strength
One big benefit of Yoga is that it’s excellent for muscle building and strength training. This is because many Yoga poses mirror popular bodyweight workouts.
Poses like the Dolphin Pose and the Upward Bow are very effective in strength training. They build your core, glutes, back, shoulders, legs, and arms. This means you can become as fit as your friend who lifts weights without lifting any yourself.
Yoga improves your heart rate
Believe it or not, Yoga raises your heart rate to a level most runners hardly ever attain. For example, the sun salutation has been confirmed by the Harvard Medical School to be a great form of cardio.
Intense types of Yoga like Vinyasa Yoga also provide great cardiovascular benefits. Countless studies have shown that it is as effective for weight loss as regular cardio. This also makes it a great option for you if your goal is to lose weight.
Yoga tones your muscles
Many Yoga positions tone the muscles and remove excess flab. The boat pose and plank, for example, tone your entire midsection effectively. They engage your abs, sides, and back muscles. Balancing poses like the handstand and the Warrior 3 Pose are also very effective in toning. They tone your shoulders, core, back, and arm muscles. In these positions, you will balance and lift your entire body weight with only a few muscle groups. This provides a slow, intense workout that leaves you stronger and fitter than most.
Yoga improved flexibility
If your work makes you sit or stand for long hours, it’s almost certain you’re going to have very stiff muscles and joints. This is especially true if you work a 9 – 5 job where you spend the entire day hunched over a tiny computer screen.
Your neck hurts from hunching forward. Your spine constantly feels like a crooked rusty iron bar, and your waist creaks with the slightest twist. If you fall into this category, you need Yoga to helps you stretch your muscles and “oil” your joints.
Poses like the Downward Dog, the Child’s Pose, and the Cat-Cow are excellent for stretching out. Moderately difficult poses like the One-legged King Pigeon Pose and the Lord of the Dance Pose are superb for improving flexibility. However, we advise you to refrain from doing these two without the supervision of a Yoga teacher. This way, you avoid any injuries which would defeat the purpose of practicing Yoga.
Yoga makes you more diet conscious
Yoga Practitioners eat healthier than non-practitioners. This is because practitioners subconsciously switch to healthier diets to reap the full benefits of Yoga. Granted, this is an incidental benefit as opposed to a direct one. However, remember, we did say that Yoga is a holistic approach to life. It improves the mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical wellbeing of all its practitioners. Also, the fact that it encourages healthy eating (which is 50% of fitness) is proof of this.
Constant Yoga classes also improve awareness of the state of one’s own mind and body. You become aware of the negative emotions that keep you awake at night and prevent you from getting a full night’s rest after a long day. You also become more aware of which side of your body is stronger (left or right) and which side needs “more training.”
Of the many forms of exercise today, few have a rich history as Yoga. Unlike most fads which are almost always snake oil, Yoga is a tested and proven way to become fit. What’s more, is that you get to feel good while doing so. You will get fit without the strains and injuries other forms of exercise bring sometimes. You will also get the extra benefit of ending each session with an improved state of mind.
So, what are you waiting for? Give Yoga a try today. It’ll be worth every minute of your time.