We’ve all been there – you want to keep fit but don’t know where to start. Before you plan out your intensive fitness regime, why not try yoga?
Practising yoga is a great way to work on your flexibility and strength in a relaxing way. The blend of fitness and mindfulness in yoga can be a great antidote to your hectic lifestyle that leaves little time for exercise.
What is yoga?
Yoga is an ancient practice that improves physical and mental wellbeing through body postures and controlled breathing exercises.
Yoga is good for beginners because it is not too complicated – with help from a fitness coach, people of all ages and fitness levels can accomplish basic yoga poses and stretches.
This low-impact exercise is especially beneficial for people who have chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure and heart disease. A study found that yoga helped lower the pulse rate and blood pressure of participants that practised yoga for five years.
There are many forms of yoga practices that vary in intensity – from physically tough to less vigorous.
Here are a few different types of yoga workouts:
For a physically tough workout that improves muscle tone, try Power and Ashtanga.
Power: A fast, high-intensity yoga practice that builds muscle.
Ashtanga: Yoga that uses a special breathing technique to help move into a series of poses.
For a less vigorous workout that benefits strength and endurance, try Hatha and Iyengar.
Hatha: The most common type of yoga, which combines a series of basic movements with breathing.
Iyengar: Helps the body move into proper alignment by utilising items such as blocks and straps.
Some types of yoga concentrate on relaxation while others focus on movement. But all forms of yoga create a total mind-body workout that incorporates yoga poses with breathing exercises.
How does yoga help with mindfulness and fitness?
For the body (fitness):
- Develop flexibility: By stretching your muscles, yoga enables you to move better and increase your range of motion. Bending your body can also help you feel less stiff and tired.
- Improve balance: Your core strength develops as your core muscles support and maintain each standing and sitting pose. Over time, you can sustain a better posture as your body becomes better aware when your slouching. Results from a study showed that 10 weeks of regular yoga practice increased the flexibility and balance of male college athletes, enhancing their athletic performances in their particular sport.
- Build up strength: Regular yoga practice strengthens your muscles so that your body remains in a balanced position. Yoga can help relieve a sore back as your back muscles are also stretched. According to a study, a 12-week Hatha yoga program led to improvements in muscular strength, flexibility and endurance among participants.
For the mind (mindfulness):
- Boost mood: Consistent yoga practice helps improve circulation in the endocrine glands, regulating hormones that play a pivotal role in managing your mood. This can help alleviate symptoms of depression.
- Reduce stress: Stress-reducing techniques that are incorporated in yoga help modulate stress response systems, which can reduce feelings of anxiety. Research has shown that individuals practising yoga often had low levels of cortisol, the body’s main stress hormone.
- Support focus: The attention required to maintain your posture and breathing improves your concentration, which can lead to greater motivation beyond yoga practice. A study found that after a 20-minute yoga session, participants’ focus improved through shorter reaction times and increased accuracy in working memory tasks.
- Helps with relaxation: By engaging with meditation, yoga helps calm your mind. Your attention is directed to sensations, thoughts and emotions that accompany a particular pose. This awareness helps you stick to the present moment and disengage from negative thoughts.
So if you’re looking to improve your fitness mindfully, yoga could be the solution for you. Just practising 15-30 minutes of yoga every day can bring physiological and psychological benefits that will contribute towards healthier living.
Interested in mindfulness and fitness? A dedicated life coach at Ceed is here to help you strive towards a healthier lifestyle.