When thinking of improving your fitness, our minds go to pumping iron, running outside or HIIT training. But Yoga combines aspects of cardio, functional and strength training all in one. In a peaceful, safe and more holistic way. Although yoga gives you a full-body workout, it’s low impact so safer for your joints.
Own Pace, Own Space.
Don’t feel like going to a class? Start at home. All you need is a fitness mat or a towel on a non-slip surface. Follow a Youtube video or download the instructional app Down Dog (my favourite!). Take it at your own pace, in your own space.
Allocating as little as 15 minutes per day to practice yoga can transform your mood, revitalise your body and give you the physical and mental boost that will change your life for the better.
… and more!
Here’s a further breakdown of some of my personal favourites.
Breathing deeply and calmly is an essential part of every yoga practice. Yogic breathing techniques (called pranayama) focus on trying to slow down the breath and on breathing fully from the pit of your stomach to the top of your lungs.
These methods will make you feel more relaxed, balanced and will help you tackle the day with a calmness and confidence. These breathing techniques can be adopted in your day to day life, help you stay calm in emergency situations, think clearer in stressful situations and reduce pain.
Some styles of Yoga, such as Ashtanga and Power yoga, are very physical and will improve muscular strength and toning.
The less vigorous styles of yoga, such as Lyengar or Hatha can also provide strength endurance benefits.
Many Yoga poses (eg. downward dog, upward dog, plank)build upper-body strength. The standing poses, especially if you hold them for several long breaths, build strength in your hamstrings, quadriceps, and abs.
Your lower back is strengthened in poses like chair pose and upward dog.
Nearly all poses build core strength in the deep abdominal muscles.
Flexibility has a flow-on effect. With the daily stretching and strengthening of your muscles, you will find you move better and more easily. You will feel less stiff and less tired, therefore recharging your energy for your day.
At any level of yoga, you'll likely start to notice benefits quickly. In a recent study, people improved their flexibility by up to35% after only 8 weeks of Yoga.
The world moves so fast nobody appreciates the power of a minute. But Yoga teaches that every moment has a purpose. Even the minutes you spend seemingly at rest during a yoga class have a time and a place.
Yoga and mindfulness go hand-in-hand. When practicing yoga, you shift your awareness to the sensations, thoughts, and emotions that accompany a given pose. That awareness brings the mind back to the present moment; the main aim of mindfulness - where it can stay happy and focused.
Practicing mindfulness has lasting physical and psychological benefits that are very much in line with the benefits of yoga. You feel more calm and relaxed, and less stressed and anxious. You experience higher levels of energy and enthusiasm and more self-confidence and self-acceptance.