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Wednesday 21st June Is International Yoga Day!

Health Benefits of Yoga

Yoga is a form of exercise that has been around for more than 5,000 years! Not only does it burn calories and tone muscles, it is a full mind-body workout, which combines strengthening and stretching poses with deep breathing, relaxation and meditation. Yoga is now commonplace in leisure centers, health clubs, schools, hospitals and surgery’s.

If you’re thinking of getting into yoga it can be a little confusing to start with as there are more than 100 different types of yoga…and some are faster and more intense than others! Lets look at some of the different types you might encounter…

  • Hatha – This is probably the most common type of yoga, which combines a series of basic movements with breathing and relaxation. A good one for beginners!
  • Vinyasa – Again this is a series of poses that flow smoothly from one to another.
  • Power – This practice aims to build more muscle and is faster and higher intensity.
  • Ashtanga – Involves the same series of poses combines with a special breathing technique.
  • Bikram – You may have heard of this as it has become increasingly popular in recent years, it is also known as ‘hot yoga’ and involves a series of 26 challenging poses performed in a high temperature room.
  • Iyengar – This type of yoga uses blocks, straps and chairs to help you move your body into the proper alignment. This is a slower form of yoga more like Hatha.

So what areas of your body are you targeting when you perform yoga?

Firstly there are yoga poses to target nearly every core muscle you have! Yoga is great for increasing core strength and toning the muscles around your middle. This is also really helpful as your core muscles help support your back while there are other poses in yoga which stretch your back muscles as well, such as downward facing dog and child’s pose. In addition yoga works your arms and your legs! Your arm strength is built up using your arms to support the weight of your own body and there are many moves that both stretch and strengthen the legs. As you can see it really is a full body workout!

Yoga is a great, safe way to exercise for many people as it increases flexibility and strength by holding poses for periods of time. At the same time it is low-impact exercise so it won’t put too much pressure on your joints like some exercises would, for example running. Its great for beginners, people of any age or fitness level can do the most basic yoga poses and build on their ability from there. Yoga has also shown to be good for people with certain health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease although these people also should do some form of aerobic exercise to help their condition. You should always check with your doctor if you have a health condition incase there are some postures you need to avoid while doing yoga. Another health condition that yoga can benefit is arthritis as it can help your stay flexible and strong without over stressing your joints by doing high impact exercise. There is also the added benefit of a mind-body approach that can help you relax and energize.

Did you know that yoga can also help prevent falls? It improves balance by strengthening your lower body, especially your ankles and knees, which reduces your chance of falling. Your never too old to start yoga, people often start in their later years as they feel themselves stiffening up and many say they wish they had started sooner! You also don’t need to be particularly fir or flexible! There are yoga classes for every age group and it is a form of exercise that can be enjoyed from childhood into your advanced years.

As Chiropractors we advise exercises such as yoga and Pilates as a safe effective way to improve your back strength and flexibility therefore reducing pain levels. Improving core strength also helps support your back and due to the low impact nature of these exercises they are not hard on your joints!

Why not give it a go!

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/a-z/yoga-workouts

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/yoga.aspx

 

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