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Yoga is a class of different asanas or postures, such as sun salutations, downward dog, and the warriors series. These different poses work the entire body using every muscle not only for gaining flexibility but for strength, endurance, and balance.
A yoga class gives your mind a workout, as the participants work on staying in the present moment. Breath work helps with getting away from daily stresses, and letting go of those never-ending todo lists.
Great way to cross train
Yoga compliments all of your other workouts by balancing out the body. Often in sports, the same types of repetitive movements are involved causing over training can happen. With a committed yoga practice, imbalances can be corrected. Think of the old saying “we are only as strong as our weakest link.”
A good example of this is with the NFL’s Philadephia Eagles. Baron Baptiste, a renowned yoga teacher, has worked with the Eagles team open and stretch their overdeveloped areas and build underdeveloped ones to prevent injuries. NBA players have been praising the benefits of yoga on their game. Just as many other types of athletes are too. Runners and cyclists can have tight leg muscles while needing to open and strengthen the upper body. Daily movements, whatever they maybe, athlete or not, create certain imbalances in the body which can cause future aches and pains if we aren’t already feeling them.
Increased balance and stability
Balancing poses require core engagement and the use of stabilizing muscles. Staying in a balancing pose, requires focus, attention to your breath, and letting go of stress.
There is a style for what you need
With a large variety of yoga styles out there, finding the right one is important. It should compliment your body and mind. A flow or vinyasa style class, can be a more active and dynamic workout, ranging in intensity. Bikram or hot yoga is done in a warmer room with temperatures ranging from 95 - 105 degrees, while a restorative, gentle, and yin style of yoga is more slow paced and can focus on longer times held in each pose.
Many people have back issues as their number one complaint, and a study conducted by National Institutes of Health (NIH) showed that yoga is an effective treatment for chronic back pain. Yoga also has shown to lower fasting blood glucose, blood lipids.
Yoga brings awareness to body alignment and control. Improves flexibility, reduces tension which can lessens the occurrence of muscle tears and strain. A frequent practice can lower body weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels while elevating mood.
Yoga, can be a stand alone practice or it can be a great way to cross train. Try different styles and teachers and find one that resonates with you. It really is a benefit for every body.
1. Tran MD, Holly RG, Lashbrook J, Amsterdam EA. Department of Exercise Science, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA 95616. Prev Cardiol 2001 Autumn;4(4):165-170 2. Karen J. Sherman, PhD, MPH; Daniel C. Cherkin, PhD; Janet Erro, RN, MN, PNP; Diana L. Miglioretti, PhD; and Richard A. Deyo, MD, MPH Comparing Yoga, Exercise, and a Self-Care Book for Chronic Low Back Pain, Annals of Internal Medicine. 2005, December; vol. 143 (12) 849-856. http://www.annals.org/content/143/12/849.long 3. Shirley Archer, JD, MA Comparing the Health Benefits of Exercise and Yoga IDEA Fitness Journal, June 2010, vol. 7 (6). 4. Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser, Lisa Christian, Heather Preston, Carrie R. Houts, William B. Malarkey, Charles F. Emery, and Ronald Glaser Stress, Inflammation, and Yoga Practice Psychosom Med 2010 72: 113-121.