Yoga has been around for more than 5,000 years. It started in India and even though it’s been practiced around the world for decades, it’s become more trendy in the past 20 years.
Many of us who believe in a tough weight training routine or an explosive cardio session might view yoga as more of a spiritual exercise. But there are more than 100 different forms of yoga; some gentle and some more intense. Whatever the pace, those who do it, as well as researchers, tell us it’s good on many levels for your body, mind and soul.
Yoga works every part of your body and builds a stronger core. When you’re doing planks, you’re using your body weight to tighten your abs, arms, back and shoulders. Yoga poses work your legs and squats tone your butt (glutes). You’ll improve your range of motion as well as overall strength, without putting a lot of stress on your joints. Yoga also improves your flexibility.
Experts say yoga can also help fight depression, relieve migraines and help people get a better night’s sleep. For those with sports injuries or those who have back pain, yoga can be as effective as physical therapy. Studies show it can improve balance, even in stroke patients.
If you’re pregnant or know someone who is, doctors say prenatal yoga is a great choice. It can help moms-to-be relax and it’s not too strenuous. Yoga can also prepare women (and even new dads) for the delivery room, by improving breathing techniques.
Ok - want to get more physical? Try hot yoga for 90 minutes at 105 F.
Psychologically, it might make you feel healthier since you’ll be wiping away the sweat, just as if you’re doing high impact cardio. Your body is working harder in the heat and you’ll lose a lot more water. It’s easier to get dehydrated, so bringing your water bottle to class is more important than ever. You should also check with your doctor before signing up for a hot yoga session.
Bottom line; if you want to ease into some regular exercise, tone your muscles or if you are looking for something new to add to your gym routine, practicing yoga a few times a week can develop inner awareness, and make a positive difference to your body and overall health.