I did some yoga sessions before and I hate to tell you… but I never had fun doing it and I even expected to achieve great results on just few sessions of muscle-tearing stretches.
I have zero balance and yoga is completely out of my abilities. But as a popular proverb suggests that, “love is sweeter the second time,” I might give yoga another try!
So for those of you who are eager to do yoga, then you must learn first if this old religious-based fitness routine is good for you or not.
Why People Do Yoga?
Do you know that there are several types of yoga that are currently practiced by over 20 million people in the US alone? Just a few of the styles practiced include Bikram, vinyasa, hatha, Iyengar, and Ashtanga.
A Survey conducted by Yoga Journal suggest that the top reasons for starting yoga were flexibility, general conditioning, stress relief and to improve overall health and physical fitness.
Yoga is deeply rooted in Hindu tradition where a series of postures and breathing exercises prepares the body for meditation, and will help you to connect with the “divine” (Hindu gods).
But yoga is a lot more than most people believe such as striking a few poses and back breaking stretches.
Traditional yoga is completely a spiritual practice that is based on eight parts including the code of ethical standards and studying scriptures. Only one of those parts – Asana, involves poses.
Surprisingly, yoga has been “modified” to fit the western culture as a form of exercise. But if most people practice yoga for exercise, is it all good for you?
Yoga Health Benefits
There are numerous health benefits to practicing yoga including:
1. Brain Enhancing Effects
A lot of research about yoga is focused on its mental-enhancing effects, which is proven to improve gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain.
Yes, GABA is significantly increased when you do various yoga postures. As a neurotransmitter, enough levels of GABA can help calms your nervous system while regulating your muscle tone.
Research showed that after just an hour of yoga, practitioner’s GABA levels increased by 27%. This increase could be responsible in improving mood to those who practice yoga.
Other studies suggest that a 20 minute yoga session can greatly improve brain function. This includes learning efficiency, better focus and processing information in a much faster way compared to those who don’t do yoga.
These benefits are possible because you focus more on your body, doing right postures and applying right breathing techniques. This helps you to relieve any distracting (negative) thoughts or stress.
2. Cardiovascular Benefits
Various studies suggest that yoga can help reduce your risk of heart disease. This includes lower body weight, lower BMI, and lower cholesterol. Unfortunately, that’s not enough to consider it a cardiovascular exercise, so for many years yoga has not been considered to be cardio.
However, a recent body of research from the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology indicates yoga can be cardiovascular exercise, despite the deeply rooted belief that it is not. Researchers combed through 1400 studies and found a strong argument that yoga can be a good substitute for traditional cardiovascular exercise like jogging or spinning.
3. Pain Reliever
Studies suggest that yoga can ease pain by enhancing both muscle toning and releasing tensions in the muscles.
Even patients with multiple sclerosis (an auto-immune disease that affects the brain and central nervous system) found some relief from yoga.
These patients reported various health improvements after practicing yoga which includes better mental clarity, concentration, bladder control, walking, vision, and a significant reduction in pain and fatigue.
Some known health benefits of yoga include reduce inflammation, relieves the symptoms of arthritis, fibromyalgia, normal sugar levels, better circulation and many others.
Is Yoga for You?
Yoga can definitely help improve your health. It won’t just tone your muscles that will give you a slimmer physique, but it will also help improve your cardiovascular health, while optimizing your brain’s full potential.
Many athletes supplement their physical exercises with a yoga practice to keep them healthy, spry, and flexible. Professional sports teams across the country are hiring yoga trainers to help their athletes stay in shape and prevent injury.
But yoga might not be ideal to everyone. If you are recovering from an injury, any physical exercise, including yoga, can exacerbate the condition. Many of the poses and routines are quite difficult for beginners. But if you start practicing yoga today, you can build up to a level that will surprise even you in just a few weeks.
To help support your yoga program, healthy diet can help you see results faster, including muscle tone and weight loss. Many yogis embark on a vegetarian or vegan diet shortly after starting their practice.
Taking a dietary supplement can also be helpful. There are a number of supplements that can help support your yoga practice, including multivitamins, B supplements, and a Nitric Booster. Nitric oxide boosters are sold by popular retailers like GNC, and manufacturers (and many users) believe that nitric oxide supplements can help increase endurance by lowering fatigue.
Any yogi who has tried to power through 108 Sun Salutations understands that fatigue can do a number on your yoga practice.