Why Do Yoga?
Yoga is a real buzz word these days, everyone’s trying it or doing it and there are many types and styles and many ways to do yoga. Here are a few of the benefits that you can experience from a weekly or regular Hatha yoga practice:
1. Increased Flexibility
Hatha yoga is a slow, gentle practice guiding the practitioner into stretches that are held for about a minute. By relaxing and breathing into a stretch, the muscles start to adapt to a new length and grow in flexibility. Sometimes you may use of props to hold postures without causing pain or injury.
2. Toned Muscles
While you are stretching some muscles, you will use other muscles to push you into the stretch. These muscles will then become stronger and are strengthened by the very action of pushing. There is a certain physical demand to enable you to hold each pose and this increases muscle tone throughout the whole body.
3. Improved Posture
By lengthening and strengthening the muscles in the body, it allows the skeleton to return to a state of balance. This means that the muscles and bones return to a place of improved alignment and correct posture. Even the smaller stabilizer muscles get stretched and toned and leave the body feeling straighter and even longer.
4. Pain Relief
As you realign the muscles and bones, tension that was causing pain, especially in connection with the hips, back and neck, is often greatly improved. Feeling straighter, lighter and stronger, with a better core, the body is less susceptible to injury.
5. Improved Breathing
In many ways breathing is the foundation of your well being. You might have noticed that in stressed states the breathing is erratic. Good breathing is often overlooked but when your breath is in a natural state and rhythm, the whole body falls into its natural rhythm and you feel and look better on many levels.
Throughout the class the focus on breath-work in the beginning and then within the postures enables the practitioner to deepen and slow down their breath. Breath, body and mind all interact with each-other and when we are stressed and busy are breathing is usually out of sync. By returning the breath to a calm state throughout the class, this impacts the calmness of the mind and aids in the well known side affects that we experience after class.
6. A Calmer Mind
The act of breathing and focusing on relaxing in a stretch moves the thought process from whatever the mind was doing before a class, this often results in a feeling of calmness and contentment. In many ways this is a meditation and the more you practice, the more of an impact this will have on your life.
7. Better Food and Lifestyle Habits
We all know that when we are feeling good in our bodies and good in our minds, that we tend to focus on healthier, more positive ways of living and working. It is very common for people that practice yoga to begin to choose healthier lifestyles and to have better food choices.
8. Protection from Disease
So naturally the healthier the body and mind the less likely we are to get sick. The lymphatic system in the body and the digestive tract get stretched and moved through many of the yoga poses. As these internal systems are essential to good health, improved well being is a natural result of yoga. Stretching also helps to move toxins stored in tissues, stimulates the circulatory system and the nervous system and there is often gentle internal organ massage created by poses such as twists and inversions. All this helps keep the body in a state of homeostasis or balance.
9. Improved Sleep
Many people experience deeper sleep on the night after a yoga class. It’s possible to bring what you learn into your personal wind-down process each night.