Why Everyone Should Practice Yoga!
Improves flexibility. Can you touch your toes? If not, you are far from alone. As we age, we lose flexibility and start to become stiff. But you don’t have to let this happen to you. Yoga and pilates will keep your spine flexible and young and, over time if you stick with it you will not only be able to touch your toes but put your hands flat on the ground when you bend forward, do a backbend and, for some of you even twist into the lotus seat position.
Lessens pain: As your spine and joints become more flexible, aches and pains will start to lessen and even disappear. For instance, improper alignment of the thigh and shinbones can create tight hips and strain the knee, while tight hamstrings can flatten the lumbar spine and cause back pain, and inflexible muscles and connective tissues can cause poor posture.
Builds muscle strength. Many people think yoga and pilates is for wimps and old people, an easy stretching exercise where you barely break a sweat. Yes, some basic hatha yoga classes are easy for most but the more advanced practices, like vinyasa flow, power, pilates reformer, and hot yoga are quite a challenge and build muscle strength. And contrary to sports like running, weight lifting or tennis, where you build strength but sacrifice flexibility, in yoga you develop strength with
Perfects your posture. Yoga asanas (postures) will help you achieve a more erect spine. Pilates works your core, which also help your posture. During your practices you will do backbends, forward ends and twists all of which will help keep your disks supple.
Prevents cartilage and joint breakdown. Yoga takes your joints through their full range of motion helping to prevent degenerative arthritis. Pilates lengthens and strengthens them.
Promotes bone health. Many formats require that you lift your own weight and this strengthens bones and helps ward off osteoporosis. For instance, downward and upward-facing dog help strengthen the arm bones, while standing asanas on one leg involve weight bearing that strengthen the leg bones.
Increases blood flow. Yoga and pilates gets your blood flowing to help circulation, especially in your hands and feet. And yoga helps to oxygenate your cells so that they function better as a result. Twisting poses supposedly wring out venous blood from internal organs and, once released allow oxygenated blood to flow in, while inverted poses like the headstand,handstand and shoulder stand foster the flow of venous blood from the legs and pelvis to the heart.
Lowers blood sugar. Worried about your blood sugar? These classes the rescue. Yoga and pilates can lower blood sugar and bad LDL cholesterol and boosts good HDL cholesterol. In those with diabetes, yoga has been found to reduce blood sugar by lowering cortisol and adrenaline levels, promoting weight loss, and improving insulin sensitivity.
Encourages lymphatic drainage. Coming in and out of different poses and postures involves contracting and stretching muscles and moving organs around. This stimulates lymphatic drainage to fight infection and dispose of toxic waste products.
Increases heart rate. More advanced formats like flow or Ashtanga is vigorous and boosts your heart rate into the aerobic range. This lowers your risk of heart attack and helps relieve depression.
Regulates the adrenal glands. Yoga and pilates lower cortisol levels, the stress hormone helping to explain why these classes can be so calming and leave you centered.
Relaxes you. By learning to slow your breath and stay present, you shift the balance from the sympathetic nervous system which sets in motion the fight-or-flight response to the parasympathetic nervous system which is calming and restorative. The result is what Herbert Benson, M.D., calls the relaxation response: lower breathing and heart rates; decreased blood pressure; increased blood flow to the intestines and reproductive organs.
Boosts mood. A consistent practice increases serotonin levels, the feel good hormone and helps to enhance mood and alleviate depression.
Helps you focus. Focusing on the present and having an intention when you start your practice is central to a body-flow especially. This helps keep you grounded and focus better.
Improves balance. Regularly doing classes like yoga and pilates increases proprioception, the sense of feeling what your body is doing and where it is in space and improves balance.