The Benefits of Yoga by Olivia Coleman

 

The ancient practice of yoga is an exercise that continues to be enjoyed by both young and old. And no wonder—it’s not only good for your spirit; it’s also wonderful for your body. A study that tested the effect of yoga on physical fitness found that college-aged students who practiced hatha yoga twice a week for 8 weeks had increased strength. Their arms increased in strength from 19% to 31%; their legs increased in strength by 28%! Yoga has also been cited as a practice to lower blood pressure, and it may be linked to additional health benefits, including improved cognition and respiration, as well as reduced cardiovascular risk.

For me, it’s tough to choose between the spiritual & physical benefits of yoga. I need to engage in physical activity, of course, but I enjoy it more when there is a spiritual aspect. It’s wonderful to find a practice that caters to both. I practice mostly Ashtanga & Vinyasa Yoga, which keeps me very interested & physically active.

Other common types of yoga include:

Bikram (known to many as “hot yoga”)
Hatha
Vinyasa
Kundilini
Ashtanga
Iyengar
Prenatal
Anusura
Restorative
Jivamuki

It really doesn’t matter what type of yoga you practice, as much as it matters how you go about practicing it. It’s important to find the type of yoga that fits you and your lifestyle best. Practicing in a studio provides a dedicated environment, the guidance of an instructor, and the support of others in the class. However, many factors aren’t really up to you, like music, pace, and lighting. If you prefer to have more control and enjoy practicing at home, I’d suggest using an instructional video (especially if you’re a beginner) and to choose an appropriate and enjoyable musical piece. No matter where you practice, always have a glass of water close by—I’m constantly surprised how thirsty I get (I guess this means I’m getting a good workout)!

Yoga is an ideal exercise to savor because it feels delightful. If it hurts or doesn’t feel good, check-in on your poses and movements to ensure you’re practicing safely and correctly. That being said, challenging yourself is fine, good even, if you’re respecting your physical limits.

If you enjoy practicing yoga, please feel free to share what type works best for you, and how you have benefited from the practice!

Photo Credit: mosa bua

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