What are the benefits of Yoga?
The answer to this question is a vast cavern of individual benefits that many different people experience. And for the sake of time I am going to keep this short and talk about my personal favourite 7 benefits.
So let’s kick this off with the most obvious one.
Yes, the practice of yoga movements give you improved flexibility. Which ever style of yoga to use (see previous blog) you will undoubtable gain flexibility. Muscles will begin to release, joints will become healthier as you work into further ranges of motion as well as being able to hold poses to gain strength in these ranges.
As I just mentioned, hold poses for a length of time builds a large amount of strength as well as being able to hold poses that the average person are not use to getting into. When I first started yoga I thought I had strong core through my training programs as an athlete. But when I began working into poses such as crow, straddle lifts it unlocked another level of core stability not to mention legs strength with poses such as warrior 2, chair and many others.
Note: I am a big advocate of strength training to evolve a fully round exercise regime. Learning to mobilise, stabilise and strengthen your body can come with a combination of yoga and strength training.
By simply moving our bodies we become more aware of them. But adding in what would be referred to as ‘mindful movement’ in yoga whereby really examining the feeling of the poses, the areas that either release tension or use strength, inadvertently gives you as sense of awareness in the body that you may not of been aware of before. With each time you step onto the mat you increase this awareness.
Whether it’s through breathing practices or mediation or even the movement. Being fully immersed in a task, whether it’s psychological or not brings a focus to your mind that, with repetition and practice is transferable into your everyday activities and life.
Reduced injury risk
The mixture of building flexibility and strength allows for a better quality of muscle reducing the risk of injury. Consistent practice allows the muscles to relax and recovery better resulting in better efficiency during activity. It also allows for better awareness of imbalances in the body leaving you to understand where you may be holding tension and give you a practical solution to use before a full-blown injury has the opportunity to occur.
Along with the physical benefits of yoga, many people and students that I encounter are looking to relax from their stressful lives. The modern world we live in is barraging us with these intense stressful situations and combined with the physical pressure to exercise faster, harder and stronger we are forgetting our ability to enter a much more relaxed state (thrive state to be exact, I’ll talk about this in more depth in future posts)
I was not aware what an impact the use of my breath had on my performance, not only in sport but in everyday life until my yoga practice allowed me to uncover its potential. Our breath has the power to not only regulate our emotional state but our psychical reaction to situations. whether it was using techniques to improve breathing for functional gain such as improving lung capacity, or for more meditative reasons such as calming the body, activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Breathing correctly can have a profound effect on not only your sport performance but life experiences.
As I said at the start, there are so many more benefits in which I could go into detail and do a blog on each one (in fact, maybe I will!) but for now I hope that these 7 are possibly something you may wish to explore further.