Yoga is an Indian discipline that’s been around for thousands of years, developed as a method of united body and mind.
Think yoga is just a trend? Think again. A 2012 Yoga in America study found that more than 20 million Americans were practicing yoga, which was nearly a 30 percent increase from 2008. And yoga continues to grow. You may be surprised to know that many top athletes do yoga. It’s also become popular among military members, including special forces, and for good reason--yoga offers plenty of benefits.
Different Types of Yoga Based Upon Needs
The great thing about yoga is that no matter your fitness level, there’s something for you. Yoga comes in many different styles and even a beginner can start doing yoga on their own fitness level. Some yoga styles are relaxing, slow, and meditative, while others are vigorous and intense. The key is to find a style that you enjoy. Some of the styles to consider include:
Hatha Yoga – Slow moving, gentle yoga that works well for beginners.
Vinyasa Yoga – Links breath and moves together in a dance-like manner. Great for HIIT lovers.
Ashtanga Yoga – Challenging and orderly yoga poses in specific sequences. Ideal for perfectionists that like order and routine.
Bikram Yoga – Uses 26 specific poses and two breathing exercises and is practiced at 105 degrees with 40 percent humidity. Perfect for people who like predictability and strive on routine.
Yoga is Easily Accessible
You can find a yoga class nearly anywhere. If you’re a gym member, there’s a good chance your gym already offers yoga classes. If you don’t have time for a gym, it’s easy to find classes online. You can find free options on YouTube or sign up for special paid classes online as well.
Relieves Stress and Tension
Yoga is excellent at relieving stress and tension, and studies back this up. Individuals who do yoga regularly report lower stress levels and lower levels of sadness. Since yoga focuses on more than the body, but also focuses on calming the mind, it is soothing to the mind, reducing tension and anxiety.
Improves Strength and Flexibility
Another reason to give yoga a try is it helps improve strength and flexibility. It’s been studied in stroke victims and found to improve balance in patients recovering from a stroke. It also improves strength, especially in the core, which can prevent back injuries and prevent falls and other injuries as you age. The gentle stretching also improves flexibility, and better flexibility reduces your risk of injury, which is why so many athletes practice yoga.
Helps Prevent Disease
Beyond relieving stress and improving strength and flexibility, practicing yoga regularly can also help prevent disease. Since yoga can aid in weight loss, it may help in the reduction of high blood pressure, which can lower your risk for heart disease. Its focus on flexibility and strength can help prevent arthritis, and for individuals who already have arthritis, yoga can help with flexibility and strength without stressing joints. Some studies have even shown that practicing yoga can improve cholesterol levels and lower blood sugar levels. Because of its stress-relieving and heart benefits, yoga is often being included in cardiac rehabilitation programs.
If you haven’t tried yoga, you’re missing out on a lot of mental and physical benefits. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a fitness beginner, yoga can benefit you, so grab a yoga mat and try it yourself.