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Yoga is a great activity if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease. It helps you develop strength, flexibility, and mind-body awareness. Unless you’re doing a fast-paced type of yoga, it's beneficial to do something aerobic on the side (like walking, biking, or swimming).
It's recommended to avoid certain postures, like those in which you’re upside down or ones that demand more balance than you have right now. A very gentle program of yoga, coupled with a light aerobic activity like walking or swimming, may be the best way to start. Do you have arthritis? Yoga can help you stay flexible and strong without putting added stress on your joints. You get the added benefit of a mind-body approach that can help you relax and energize. If you’re pregnant, yoga can help keep you relaxed, strong, and in shape.
If you’re new to yoga or have any health or pregnancy-related problems, talk to your doctor before you give it a try. Look for an instructor who’s experienced in teaching prenatal yoga. You’ll need to make some adjustments as your baby and belly grow and your center of gravity shifts. After your first trimester, don’t do any poses that have you lying on your back. And don’t try to stretch any further than you did before pregnancy. Your pregnancy hormones will loosen up your joints and make you more likely to get injured. While you’re pregnant, avoid postures that put pressure on your belly or low back. Don’t do “hot” yoga, where the room temperature is very high.
Yoga strengthens the mind-body connection, improving overall fitness and well-being. Many styles of yoga combine meditation with the physical routines, which use controlled breathing throughout the yoga poses. You can meditate without practicing yoga by simply relaxing, clearing your mind and concentrating on controlled breathing. Both yoga and meditation, when used consistently, have proven health benefits.
Western society is plagued by sedentary jobs where workers sit most of the day. This leads to reduced muscle mass, fitness and flexibility. In addition, office work increases neck and shoulder strain from hunching over in front of a computer all day. Yoga poses focus on stretching and lengthening the muscles. Increased flexibility will help you with daily movements such lifting and bending, while improving sports performance. Many athletes incorporate yoga into their workout schedules to improve or maintain flexibility.
Both yoga and meditation improve mental focus and provide a general feeling of well-being. Many yoga disciplines are based around an upbeat theme. For example, Anusara yoga’s philosophy looks for the good in all things and is created for an uplifting experience focused on the celebration of the heart. A 2012 control study published in “Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine” found yoga participants happy, peaceful and upbeat in contrast to the control group, who had a decrease in general well-being. Meditation provides an emotional boost through deep relaxation, and it can be done anywhere. You can give yourself an emotional boost by taking a 10-minute meditation break right at your desk. Just simply shut your eyes, focus on relaxing your muscles, and practice deep breathing.
Studies suggest that practicing yoga improves fitness and body awareness, leading to better eating habits. This in turn leads to increased self-esteem and the desire to take care of your body. Practicing meditation or yoga is a behavior modification technique that can help you improve your overall fitness.
Reducing your stress level, eating healthier and getting more exercise can only lead to better health. Modern life is full of stressful situations, fatigue from long hours and little sleep, allergies, anxiety disorders, and a long list of stress-related diseases. Adding yoga or meditation to your life will improve the quality and possibly the quantity of your life. Improved health means you can participate in more physical activities, and just feel better doing the things you do daily.