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January 24, 2020
10 Benefits of Yoga
We are well and truly into the new year and so many of us are possibly starting to wane a little with all those healthy habits that started off oh so well!
One new habit that I've managed to stick to has been the practice of regular yoga. It's taken sheer determination to stick with it and I remind myself of the multitude of benefits it has both for my body and my mind!
1. Increased flexibility
One of the first and most obvious benefits of yoga. When you first start your yoga journey you may not even be able to touch your toes let alone do a backbend. If you stick with your yoga practice over time you will start to really loosen up and gain a lot more flexibility. Also over time you will notice that aches and pains will start to disappear. This is not a confidence.
Tight hips can strain the knee joint due to improper alignment of the thigh and shinbones.
Tight hamstrings can lead to a flattening of the lumbar spine, which can cause back pain. And inflexibility in muscles and connective tissue, such as fascia and ligaments, can cause poor posture.
2.Increased muscle strength and tone
Strong muscles do much more than just look good. They also help to protect from conditions such as arthritis and back pain. When you build strength in yoga you balance it with flexibility. Going to the gym and lifting weights is great but if you don’t do any form of stretching, the strength you gain will be at the expense of your flexibility.
3. Perfects your posture
Your head is heavy ( 10 - 11lbs) and your neck and back take the weight of it on a daily basis. When posture is correct and it is balanced directly over the erect spine, it is much easier for your neck and back muscles to support it.
Poor posture can cause fatigue, back, neck and other muscle and joint problems. As you slump, your body may compensate by flattening the normal inward curves in your neck and lower back. This can cause pain and degenerative arthritis of the spine. Regular yoga practice is a wonderful way to correct your posture and ensure that you are not causing strain on your neck and back.
4. Protect your spine
Spinal sinks - the shock absorbers between the vertebrae that can herniate and compress nerves. If you complete a yoga class regularly that includes backbends, forward bends and twists, your spine and the discs will be kept supple and in much better condition to support your body.
5. Helps you sleep deeper
Yoga can provide relief from the hustle and bustle of modern life. By turning inward regularly, we are giving our senses a break from the constant stimulation they are bombarded with daily. Practicing yoga offers much-needed downtime for the bodies nervous system. This, in turn, can lead to better quality sleep which has a multitude of benefits but most importantly ensures that we are recharged and rejuvenated for the next day and all that may lie ahead.
6. Makes you happier
Studies have found that consistent yoga practice can lead to a significant increase in serotonin levels and a decrease in the levels of monoamine oxidase (an enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters) and cortisol which can improve conditions such as depression and anxiety.
After yoga practice, people often feel refreshed with a calmer, clearer mind and feel more able to focus and be present - all of these factors lead to an increase the sense of happiness and well-being.
7. Maintaining a balanced metabolism
Yoga, like any form of exercise, can help increase the speed of your metabolism. Although there have been no studies to prove this, yogis believe that the twisting poses may be beneficial for detoxifying the body and speeding up the metabolic process in the body. This can help to maintain a balanced metabolism.
8. Keep you healthy
Kriyas, otherwise known as a ‘cleansing practice’, is another element of some yoga practice. They include everything from rapid breathing exercises to elaborate internal cleansing of the intestines. Some yoga classes can be tailored specifically for cleansing and detoxifying the body which is extremely beneficial to help prevent viruses in the body.
9. Support your connective tissue
This is one of the great lessons of yoga: Everything is connected—your hipbone to your anklebone, you to your community, your community to the world. This interconnection is vital to understanding yoga. This synergy may be the most important way of all that yoga heals. Yoga can help strengthen these small muscles, that are so vital yet don’t get looked after the way they should be.
By practicing yoga regularly you will help support your connective tissue and in turn support your joints, bones and muscles.
10. Eases your pain
Yoga can ease pain in your body. According to several studies, asana, meditation, or a combination of the two, reduced pain in people with arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other chronic conditions. When you relieve your pain, your mood improves, you're more inclined to be active, and you don't need as much medication. It also relieves your stress. Constantly being in pain can really weigh heavy on your mind and can cause you stress.
Images on our blog post are compliments of Suzan Altay from LearnYogaLondon.com.
Check out Suzan's website or her incredible instagram page for more beautiful images and information about this beautiful practice.
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This month, our guest blog is by our lovely friend and London based yoga teacher, Lorna Fisher. An ex lawyer, Lorna is passionate about yoga and wellbeing and balance. A busy mum herself, she has also seen the many benefits of yoga practice for children and her teen workshops became very popular during the pandemic.
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