Yoga is one of the fastest-growing fitness practices in the West, but it has its roots planted firmly in ancient Eastern tradition. A diffuse grouping of spiritual and physical disciplines in religions such as Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism, in the United States, yoga typically refers to a mostly athletic practice, one where the practitioner adopts various challenging poses to increase strength, wellness, and flexibility.
If you’ve ever been to a beginner’s yoga class (when you’re not already a pro), you know how challenging even basic poses can be. Sure, Warrior Poses #1 and #2 might look simple on their own, but when they come 32 minutes into your class and you’ve got to hold them for 45 seconds straight after five months of low-impact home quarantining… well, you might find them to be rather challenging.
So we all know that yoga can be tough, but what’s the actual benefit of yoga’s physical practice? Let’s investigate.
How Yoga Can Change Your Body
Yoga May Improve Your Respiratory and Circulatory Function
Studies show that yoga’s regular practice can increase lung capacity and circulatory function (measured in the study linked above as blood pressure). This fits with the more spiritual understanding of yoga. Practitioners are frequently challenged to focus on their heartbeat and breath, trying to make each as efficient as possible or promote stability within any of the given yoga poses. Breathing and heart function will improve with any dedicated cardio or resistance training regimen, but yoga fulfills both roles very well.
Yoga May Improve Your Balance and Posture
One of the best aspects of yoga is the way the different poses activate various muscle groups. Unlike in typical gym exercises (like free weights and machines), which attempt to isolate specific muscles or small muscle groups, yoga often works with multiple muscle groups acting in tandem. In so doing, the poses activate stabilizer muscles that might otherwise be neglected if you were to do a normal gym set. Many of these muscles will be in your back and core, which may help with your posture and overall balance.
Yoga May Improve Your Flexibility
One of the most important goals of yoga is the increase in the body’s flexibility. When we don’t challenge our body’s normal range of motion, our muscles become accustomed to remaining in a shortened state. Yoga, however, pulls muscles to and slightly beyond their full range of motion, when correctly performed. Over time, this will usually increase the practitioner’s comfortable range of motion and, thereby, their overall flexibility.
Yoga May Increase Your Overall Strength and Appearance
Yoga burns calories and can help discipline the mind, and may, therefore, help you manage calories and stick to a healthy diet. Like more traditional western exercise plans, yoga will also help you to become stronger. Given enough time, this increased fitness is bound to improve your strength and also make a difference in your appearance. We’ve all seen what a five-year yoga vet looks like when they walk into class on a Saturday morning. That yoga bod is no accident, and you can have one too in less time than you probably think!
If you’re beginning on the yogic path, it’s important to give your body exactly what it needs to thrive within its new set of athletic challenges. For bone support (as yoga will put an early strain on your bones, ligaments, and joints), we recommend Bone Guard Forte from Perque, or Bone Renewal Capsules from Pure Synergy.
For dealing with after-class aches and pains you might experience for the first week or two, we recommend Curamin Extra Strength from Terry Naturally, which seeks to provide natural relief from mild workout pain. Besides taking supplements and consulting with a doctor about your individual needs, make sure to drink plenty of water, get lots of sleep, and stay determined.
The benefits you’ll feel from doing yoga will be more than worth it!