Yoga focuses your breathing which has a positive stimulating effect on your endocrine system, merely being on your mat and practicing ujjayi breathing (the yogic deep breathing that sounds a bit like quiet snoring!) will help balance your hormones.
Inverted poses such as headstands, handstands and shoulder stands also benefit your body’s hormonal balance, leaving you feeling calmer and more energised after practising 🙂 Forward bending poses such as; downward facing dog, seated forward fold and child’s pose helps alleviate stress, anxiety and fatigue. They also rejuvenate your kidneys, thyroid, thymus and pancreas, which helps with balancing your hormones. Hip openers and wide-angle poses nourish your internal organs whilst helping with emotional release: an important part of dealing with stress. And we all know that stress can be a big factor with hormonal imbalances.
Maintain Muscle Tone
Our muscles start aging at 30, this can lead to deterioration of joints and ligaments, stiffness can occur and so we become less mobile. Yoga helps these symptoms by working to maintain the quantity and quality of the muscle in your body; so not only are we keeping fit but also reducing the potential risk of injury in everyday life.
People don’t associate Yoga with strength training, but Yoga involves a lot of body weight exercises like the plank, eagle (single-legged squat) and the warrior pose which make the body stronger over time. If your Yoga Teacher teaches a strong class then often you will feel the burn like you do when you workout! Yoga is great for improving the strength of your legs, core and shoulders whilst also being low impact and thus better for your hips and knees than other activities. In fact, two of the five best exercises recommended for strength and balance are yoga poses!
People in their 40’s and beyond face the challenge of lower bone density, which could, if left unchallenged, lead to osteoporosis. The weight-bearing nature of yoga means that you have a higher chance of maintaining healthy bone density thus reducing the risk of osteoporosis. In fact, one study showed that doing just 12 minutes of yoga a day can reverse osteoporotic bone loss… time to get your mat out!
Improve Spinal Health
Yoga keeps your spine and all of the associated muscles limber. Spinal health is essential to mobility. A painful or stiff spine becomes more likely with age. If we are less active and we gain weight, we may start to lose our flexibility in our muscles and joints. Having a healthy back is essential for good posture and for healthy and pain-free movement patterns. As most of us already know, even a minor back injury really makes daily life a whole lot harder! Flexibility is important because if we are flexible then our muscles are more elastic which means that we can move more without injury. When that becomes limited, we are more likely to pull muscles or put particular muscles under strain which leads to more chronic conditions.
Yoga moves through all the planes in which the body was designed to move. Practicing yoga including twists and back bends enables us to pay special attention to our spinal health, which is essential to keeping our entire body younger for longer.
Engaging and connecting to our core means that the muscles that support our back will be more active more often, again – reducing injury! Most importantly, yoga helps us to connect to what is going on in our body so we can listen to where we have tension and move to alleviate it. It is this ability to receive information from the body and then act on it that transforms how you live.
Keep the Mind Sharp, Clear and Focused
As we get older, the mind finds it harder to remember facts and details about situations. The mental focus, clarity, and meditative aspects of yoga can keep our minds sharp and focused whilst reducing anxiety. Maintaining a positive outlook is essential in staying healthy, many studies have shown that our mind, immune system and health are all inextricably linked.
Meditation is also an important element of yoga. As you stand, sit or lie down on your mat, you are asked to focus on your breath alone and empty the distractions from your mind. This is a welcome skill to stay calm in a sea of stress and high-pressure situations.
It Keeps you Fit and Flexible
Yoga helps us maintain a healthy weight and improves energy levels. An effective Yoga practice consists of a mix of strengthening poses and mobility training. If you are not prone to be particularly active, there is a high likelihood of feeling stiff in the joints which doing yoga regularly can rectify 🙂 Being flexible means that there is less struggle in daily life! You can easily put your socks and shoes on, get up from a low bench or pick something up off the floor.
If you don’t use it, you lose it so keep exploring your range of motion. If there are some things you currently can’t do, then keep trying and keep practicing because you will get there with persistence and determination!
Good For the Heart
Yoga can also be a great cardiovascular exercise for the heart. Vinyasa flow, ashtanga and hot yoga are particularly challenging types of yoga for the cardiovascular system, but the other types are also likely to raise your heart rate above resting rate. This elevated heart rate improves oxygen supply to your whole body leaving you feeling energised and ready for whatever the rest of the day has to bring! Yoga can also regulate blood pressure which can prevent or mitigate several heart conditions.
Studies show that yoga can possibly lower your heart rate, ease palpitations and lowers hypertension when you combine postures, breathing and meditation in your yoga practice.
Yoga is shown to have similar benefits as brisk walking or other similar cardio exercises so if the weather looks miserable – don your yoga pants!
Yoga Reduces Anxiety
Yoga was traditionally a preparatory exercise for meditation. Its emphasis on breathing and focus on the task at hand have been proven to benefit the mind.
Yoga has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, as well as improve sleep and enhance overall wellbeing.
As a mind-body practice, yoga allows people to become aware of the link between their minds and bodies in a way which can help them become less anxious. For example, shallow breathing may contribute to a heightened stress response, or repeated patterns of behaviour might ultimately worsen overall anxiety (for instance, relying on alcohol to calm down). Yoga increases mind-body awareness, as well as being a wonderful form of relaxation so why not give Yoga a try…?
Looking to Start Yoga?
Want to improve your Yoga practice?
Free Spirit Fitness offer a 4-week Beginners Yoga Course that show you the safe and correct form of common poses in step by step videos, followed by a Yoga sequence video which puts all the poses together.
Already Practicing Yoga?
Why not check out some of our at home Yoga videos which allow you to practice in the comfort of your own home:
1:1 Yoga Sessions
If you are interested in 1 to 1 yoga sessions with your partner/family or with a group of pals then contact us! We are really excited to now offer corporate classes too so if you would like us to come to your work place to offer you and your colleagues a 45 minute lunch time stretch, then drop us an email. Places are being booked up so act soon if you are keen!
” Free Spirit works for me!! I’m back on track, and feel much leaner, healthier and brighter … eating well, exercising and enjoying being back in control of me!! I’d have no hesitation in recommending Free Spirit!! “