4 reasons why you should be practicing Yoga

4 reasons why you should be practicing Yoga

The word “Yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit word “yuji,” which means yoke or union.  Yoga is an ancient practice that brings together mind and body.  While it incorporates breathing exercises, meditation and a variety of poses, it is designed to encourage relaxation and reduce stress.

For over 5000 years people around the world have been practicing yoga for many different reasons.  “On a physical level, yoga helps improve flexibility, strength, balance, and endurance,” says Linda Schlamadinger McGrath, founder of YogaSource Los Gatos. “On an energetic level, yoga teaches you how to cope better with stress by cultivating a sense of ease in both active or passive poses. On a psychological level, yoga helps to cultivate mindfulness by shifting your awareness to the sensations, thoughts, and emotions that accompany a given pose or exercise.”

Increases your Strength

Yoga is a wonderful, non-strenuous addition to your exercise routine that will help you build strength in your body.  In fact, there are specific poses specifically designed build muscle.  Practicing yoga daily can be an effective and efficient way to boost strength and endurance, especially when you incorporate it into your regular exercise routine.

It improves your Flexibility and Balance

In a study of 80 individuals, the group that participated in just one week of yoga showed less disability and greater flexibility than patients who completed other physical exercises. Yoga’s stretching exercises can improve your spinal flexibility.  A lot of people start practicing yoga to improve their flexibility and balance.  All it takes is 15-30 minutes of yoga each day to see a difference and an increase of flexibility and balance.

Yoga helps you stress less

Another well-known fact is that yoga has an ability to ease stress and promotes relaxation.  Multiple studies have shown that it decreases the secretion of cortisol which is the hormone primarily linked to stress.  Yoga is a great way to keep your stress under control.  Practicing relaxing poses, such as lying on your back with your feet up the wall will help with circulation as well as calming your body and your mind,” says Tamal Dodge, director of the Tamal Yoga School.

It helps with depression

Yoga emphasises the importance of finding a sense of peace as well as being present in the moment – these two things are the main reasons that yoga reduces the symptoms of anxiety and help with depression.  “Practicing in a group setting stimulates the production of oxytocin, the love and bonding hormone,” McGrath says.  Also practicing mindfulness through yoga and meditation helps increase serotonin levels (the happiness hormone).

Here are 3 amazing and easy yoga poses for you to try out today

Mountain Pose

  • Stand tall with feet together, shoulders relaxed, weight evenly distributed through your soles, arms at sides.
  • Take a deep breath and raise your hands overhead, palms facing each other with arms straight. Reach up toward the sky with your fingertips.

Tree Pose

  • Stand with arms at sides.
  • Shift weight onto left leg and place sole of right foot inside left thigh, keeping hips facing forward.
  • Once balanced, bring hands in front of you in prayer position, palms together.
  • On an inhalation, extend arms over shoulders, palms separated and facing each another. Stay for 30 seconds.
  • Lower and repeat on opposite side.

Make it easier: Bring your right foot to the inside of your left ankle, keeping your toes on the floor for balance. As you get stronger and develop better balance, move your foot to the inside of your left calf.

Warrior

  • Stand with legs 3 to 4 feet apart, turning right foot out 90 degrees and left foot in slightly.
  • Bring your hands to your hips and relax your shoulders, then extend arms out to the sides, palms down.
  • Bend right knee 90 degrees, keeping knee over ankle; gaze out over right hand. Stay for 1 minute.
  • Switch sides and repeat.

Yoga has endless benefits when it is practiced properly, so make sure not to over exert yourself and enjoy the Yoga experience.

Has yoga helped you find a new lease in life?  What are some of your favourite yoga poses that you add to your daily exercise routine?  Let us know if the comments below.

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