Yoga is a mind body practice that can meet the needs of all kinds of bodies, at all levels of fitness and health. It’s not just for bendy people! A yoga class is a great addition to any fitness program, encouraging strength as well as flexibility. It also helps practitioners to develop a quiet mind and a calm nervous system, which is so beneficial in our busy lives.
Yoga has been shown to improve performance when included in a training program, with football players (of all codes), Olympic athletes (including our Aussie swimmers!), tennis players (Andy Murray is a yogi), and many others turning to yoga to reap the benefits.
What are the benefits of yoga?
Yoga can improve your balance. By strengthening your mind body connection, as well as your muscles, yoga can improve motor function and the ability to balance. Better balance may lead to decreased injury.
Yoga can increase flexibility. By countering the tightness or limited range of motion in joints that may result from our more sedentary lives, or even from strong, targeted training, yoga can help to improve or maintain flexibility, without compromising stability.
Yoga can build strength. By using body weight as resistance, and working in ways that are different to our usual movement patterns, yoga can help practitioners to build strength in muscles you didn’t know you had.
Yoga can improve concentration. Yoga includes meditative and/or mindfulness practices, which aim to focus the mind, bringing you to a place of single pointed awareness. This can allow you to get ‘into the zone’ more easily, having strengthened the neural pathways required to get there.
Yoga can decrease stress levels. By fostering a connection to the present moment, and to the breath, yoga can take us out of our heads and get us into our bodies. Practitioners are able to take a break from their thoughts, from their ‘to-do’ lists and simply be in the moment.
Yoga can improve resilience. Yoga also encourages you to observe – what’s happening in your body, what’s happening in your mind – to notice what is occurring without judgement. This allows us the time and space to respond, choosing how we behave, rather than simply reacting to challenges that may arise, so we develop resilience, and hone the tools we have to deal with adversity.
The benefits of yoga are many, and readily available to all practitioners. No, you don’t have to be able to put your foot behind your head (I can’t, and I’m the yoga instructor!) Yes, you are flexible enough for yoga, even if you think you’re not. Join me on the mat one day and find out for yourself.
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