What is Yoga?
Yoga is the meaning of “Union” in sanskrit, yoga originated from ancient India over 5000 yrs ago. Yoga is the union between our body, mind, & spirit.
Yoga is a fabulous way to begin and end your day. Yoga is becoming very popular in the West. Therefore, you see many more people participating in yoga due to the wonderful benefits it offers.
I always choose to add in yoga to every personal training session and fitness class I teach. I find the relaxation and breathing techniques very useful to help my clients to connect with their body, mind and soul.
Some people think yoga is just all about meditating, this is actually not true.Yoga creates a very toned body and is a great way to stay in shape. Yoga is very different than I expected, I remember when I was young seeing a man standing on his head on the grass at the beach for long periods of time. I would watch him and wondered how he could do that so peacefully. I now know he was doing “Yoga”.
I thought wow that must take concentration and it looks very hard, so I then assumed I could never do that.
When I became pregnant a few years ago, I couldn’t teach aerobics classes, so I changed to teaching all yoga classes during my pregnancy. The difference I found in myself was amazing: I felt more relaxed, less stressed, my flexibility improved, my breathing deepened making it easier for me when it came to labouring during childbirth. I found yoga very calming through my early stages of labour too and after giving birth.
Today I find it helps me immensely with controlling my stress levels and my IBS bowel problem, by creating better posture and focusing on my body alignment and awareness I do not find my bowel problems bothering me as much. I use Yoga daily to ground myself and keep my muscles long and lean. This helps me to live a very active and healthy lifestyle.
Let’s take a look at how we can benefit from doing Yoga
Some styles of yoga, such as ashtanga and power yoga, are more powerful than others. Practicing one or both of these styles will help you create the strength your looking for. But even less vigorous styles of yoga, such as Iyengar yoga, which focuses on less movement and more precise alignment in poses, can provide strength and overall endurance benefits. Many of the poses, such as Downward Dog, Upward Dog/baby Cobra, and Plank pose, build upper-body strength. The standing poses, especially if you hold them for longer periods of time included with deep breathing, builds strength in your calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes and core, and abdominal muscles. Poses that strengthen the lower back include Upward Dog / Cobra / Warrior three / Tree pose / boat pose / and Chair pose. When practiced correctly, nearly all poses build core strength.
The series of yoga poses called asanas work by stretching your muscles. This releases the lactic acid that builds up with muscle use and causes stiffness, tension, pain, and stress/fatigue to the body. Yoga increases the range of motion and lubrication in all joints. This creates a more relaxed feel within the body making it easier to participate in Yoga. Here are some great stretches for creating more flexibility include; Down ward dog/split, cobra, standing forward bend, pigeon, lunge right/left, locust, bow, mountain pose.
As a benefit to becoming stronger, you can expect to see increased muscle tone. Yoga helps to create long lean muscles.
Pain & Stress Relief
Increasing flexibility and strength can help prevent many types of body pain including; relieving symptoms of asthma, arthritis, insomnia, some back pain, IBS syndrome, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, cholesterol, depression, anxiety. Yoga has long been known to lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate and has been associated with decreased cholesterol, triglyceride levels and boosts immune system function leaving you with more energy. Resulting in a healthy and fit body!
Posture and Balance
With increased flexibility and strength comes better posture.Focusing on standing,sitting and balancing on one leg exercises develop core strength. Your abdominal muscles help to support and maintain each pose. With a stronger core, its more natural to stand up “tall” and sit with a straight back. Posture works on helping to obtain body awareness. This new body awareness reminds you more quickly when you’re slouching, rounding your shoulders or not standing tall and makes it easier to correct your posture. Some great exercises to create good posture are: Warrior One Two & Three, Mountain pose/with arms overhead,Tree pose,boat pose.
Focusing on deep breathing helps the lungs capacity to improve so with stronger lungs comes better sports performance and endurance. Even though yoga typically isn’t focused on aerobic fitness the way that running or aerobic classes are joining an intense hot/fitness power yoga class can provide great aerobic benefits resulting in burning many calories per class. Most forms of yoga emphasize on deepening and lengthening your breath. This stimulates the relaxation response.
Quieting the mind, Meditation
Some yoga styles use specific meditation techniques to quiet the “mind ” our busy minds are usually what often creates stress. Other yoga styles depend on deep breathing techniques to focus your mind on your breath. When this happens, your mind becomes more calm and your body relaxed.Everyone can do with focusing on some quiet time whether your in stretch mode or not.Yoga has been said to increase spiritual awareness which also results in peace of mind.
Make sure you take some time in your day to connect with yourself.