One of the ways that I improve my flexibility, relax and build some strength is to engage in yoga on a regular basis. I devote some part of nearly every day to yoga, although it is not always my primary exercise (I include aerobic and strength training exercises in my weekly mix).
I enjoy yoga because it relaxes me, as well as helps me feel limber and more connected, mind to body. Plus, my tendency toward sciatica hasn’t been an issue since I started practicing yoga. I can’t say that it’s the yoga, but I’ve had almost no back trouble since I began regular yoga practice. I’m not the only one who has noticed health benefits from yoga. WebMD has a list of health benefits related to yoga.
- Flexibility: Improvement in your flexibility, in soft tissues as well as for muscles, can help you prevent injury on a number of levels, as well as improve your sense of fluidity and motion.
- Strength: Some types of yoga can actually help you improve your strength, building muscles. This often includes strength in your core muscles, which can lead to better posture.
- Relaxation and stress relief: The breathing system and exercise that are paired with yoga can increase lung capacity and improve endurance. However, many people connect the breathing with the ability to better relax and relieve stress. Yoga can help you attain more calm in your life, and reduce the anxiety and stress that can lead to health problems and even depression.
- Other health benefits: There are indications that the practice of yoga can contribute to lower blood pressure and heart disease, as well as improve learning and memory, possibly combating dementia and memory loss.
Yoga practice has helped my mood, as well as helped me keep up my energy level. I feel much better when I engage in yoga practice.
Another benefit of yoga is that it can raise awareness of your body and your health. If you really get into it, you might find yourself eating better. I know that when I am practicing yoga, I am less interested in junk food; my better mood alleviates the “need” I have to eat junk food as comfort. Plus, having a better connection with your body can result in making better choices about your health.
Health Risks Associated with Yoga
It is important to note, however, that there are health risks associated with yoga. As with any exercise, there is the risk of injury. Yoga can put pressure on the spine, neck and head, and there are other injuries that can result. Some poses can be damaging to a fetus carried by a mother practicing yoga. Before you engage in yoga, it is important to make sure that it is appropriate for your situation, and it is vital to understand that there are risks involved — even if you do the poses right.
What’s more important than learning to do hard poses is learning to do poses that you feel work for you properly. I don’t do anything fancy. Indeed, my yoga practice is very basic. I run through the Sun Salutation series every day, and on days when yoga is my main exercise, I do additional poses that are a little more challenging. But nothing impressive. There’s no reason to stress my body — since that pretty much defeats the purpose of a healthy yoga practice.