As you age, life gets busy. Between family, social activities and day-to-day chaos, your workout routine may be taking a back seat. It is important to maintain regular exercise habits to control blood pressure, weight gain, and bone / muscle strength. For many women, they opt to move away from high impact exercises like aerobics or running. Instead, they try lower impact exercises such as yoga.
If you’ve ever watched a yoga demonstration, then you’ll notice that it is all about being centered and strong. The question that many have is “Do I need to get healthy before I start yoga or can I use it to improve my health?” The answer is yes to both.
Yoga works to build your strength and flexibility. If you have never practiced before, you will be learning new skills that are out of your comfort zone. You should consult with your physician prior to starting this or any other health routine (just to be on the safe side). Once you have the all clear, you can choose a style or level of yoga that is appropriate for your abilities, personality, and fitness goals.
There are many different styles of yoga. Most involve deep breathing and holding poses. They may also focus on building flexibility, resolving neck pain, or helping you deepen your spirituality. For beginners, a style of yoga called Hatha is a great place to start. It introduces you to basic poses and asanas or physical exercises. People with more advanced skills may consider participating in Ashtanga yoga classes. The practice includes advanced sun salutations and difficult poses that remind us of modern gymnastic exercises (read… advanced and physically demanding). Whichever style of yoga you choose, do your research and start with beginning practices to avoid injury.
Benefits of Yoga
There are many benefits to the practice of yoga. It can help you reduce stress and also help you improve your overall health.
- Reduced Blood Pressure: Though there is no definitive proof as to why, yoga is associated with reducing blood pressure. Studies have shown that people who practiced yoga regularly reduce their overall blood pressure. This may be a result of lowering overall body weight or reducing stress through deep breathing.
- Lowers Cortisol Levels: When cortisol rises to unhealthy levels, your body can suffer negatively including increased body fat, bone loss and depression. Research shows that cortisol levels are reduced after yoga classes. It is possible that the body enters deep relaxation while doing breathing exercises and holding postures.
- Reduces Pain: For people with chronic pain, yoga can help to significantly reduce it. Relaxation techniques and the promotion of positive thinking may help. Studies have shown that yoga is an effective component of pain management for people with arthritis, back pain and headaches.
- Builds Flexibility: The stretching that occurs during yoga helps improve flexibility. Yoga stretches both muscle and joints. Beginning poses that may help flexibility include mountain pose, child’s pose, and downward dog. It is important to recognize your limitations and use modifications as you increase your flexibility.
Though the jury is still out on how it works, there is plenty of research to back its effectiveness. From reducing overall body mass to reducing pain, yoga can help you improve your overall health.