Ten reasons why you should be doing yoga
Yoga is one of those ancient forms of exercise that lift the mind, body and spirit in a way that no other combination of stretching, core work and meditation seem to quite match. The beginnings of Yoga have been traced back to Northern India over 5,000 years ago. Initially developed as the path to enlightenment, it has evolved over the centuries to the point that today there are many different types of yoga practiced. Among the most popular are:
- Hatha Yoga - a slow-paced form of yoga with stretches and breathing exercises
- Kundalini Yoga – poses are performed together with breathing techniques to intensify the workout
- Ashtanga Yoga – a more physical and advanced form of yoga focusing on strength, flexibility and stamina
- Hot and Bikram Yoga – the workout is performed in a hot room (around 40oC) and in a flowing style, with poses that are linked together
If you don’t know your downward-facing dog from your cobra, fear not! There are beginners classes practiced all over Australia just about every day, so there’s bound to be one not too far from you that incorporates all the yoga poses that will lead you down the path of good health. Want to know why you should start incorporating some yoga into your weekly routine? Here are our top 10 benefits of yoga:
- Yoga improves your flexibility. The more you practice yoga, the more you’ll notice a gradual loosening as the tightness in your hips and hamstrings releases, allowing you to move more and improve your posture.
- Yoga builds muscle strength – and strong muscles are important to protect from conditions such as arthritis and back pain. When you increase your muscle, you’re also likely to burn fat more easily too.
- Yoga improves bone health. Many yoga postures are weight bearing because you’re lifting your own body weight, and weight-bearing exercises strengthen bones and help to ward off osteoporosis.
- Yoga protects your spine. Your spinal discs are the shock absorbers between each vertebra and they crave movement so they can get the nutrients they need to function well. Yoga incorporates plenty of back bends, forward bends and side twists that help to keep those disks lithe and flexible.
- Yoga helps your lymphatic system fight infection. The more you stretch and contract, the more your internal organs move around, and the drainage of your lymph nodes increases. This assists your lymphatic system to fight infection, destroy cancerous cells and dispose of toxic wastes.
- Yoga decreases stress. Many studies over the years have shown that yoga can decrease the secretion of cortisol, which is the primary stress hormone. One study of 131 people showed that after 10 weeks of yoga, stress, anxiety and quality of life improved, and that yoga was more effective than relaxation in improving mental heath.
- Yoga increases balance. One of the fundamentals of yoga is balance both physically and mentally – it’s a requirement for many of the poses that are held throughout a yoga sequence. As you move slowly and mindfully into each yoga pose, you develop balance as you enter the pose and as you hold yourself there.
- Yoga improves your emotional well-being. It’s no secret that all forms of exercise have been shown to make you feel better, ward off depression and help you to sleep better. Practicing in a group session such as a yoga class, stimulates the production of oxytocin, which is the love and bonding hormone. The mindfulness aspects of yoga also result in higher serotonin (the happiness hormone) levels.
- Yoga can relieve your hangover. If you’ve overindulged a little and wake up with a banging head, yoga may be the last thing on your mind but it’s a great way to detox. Any poses such as the shoulder stand, plow and fish work on the thyroid gland and improve metabolism, meaning you’ll say goodbye to your hangover a lot faster than you will by staying in bed and feeling sorry for yourself.
- Yoga can ease asthma. Because all yoga incorporates breathing techniques, it is a natural relief for asthma sufferers. As anyone with asthma knows, it can be a struggle to breathe properly but yoga teaches you how to breathe deeply in and out through the nose to filter the air and find a balanced and natural breathing pattern. Over time this increases lung capacity and gives you more control of the way you breath.
Want to get started?
There’s no better time to roll out the mat and start incorporating some yoga into your routine than right now but if you’re keen to kick start your yoga journey with a trip to the home of yoga, check out Ananda in the Himalayan foothills of Northern India. Here you’ll find yoga retreats that are completely pure and traditional in form, and adapted to suit individual needs.
If you need a little financial assistance to make it happen, just check out our fast cash loans from $1K - $5K to find out how quick and easy it is to get your hands on some extra funds. Once a loan is approved, we can usually deposit the cash into your bank account within a few hours - so you could start planning your enlightening yoga retreat today!