Yoga has been in existence for centuries and, with its many benefits to health and wellbeing, it could be the new activity for you to try. Here, Steven Virtue, Fitness Experience Manager at health club, Total Fitness, explains the reasons you could take it up.
- Release tension: Yoga offers a huge array of stretches to improve mobility and release tension throughout the body. Regular stretching improves flexibility which, in turn, reduces the chances of overuse injuries and injury through muscular strain. Maintaining a good level of flexibility will certainly help you stay healthy, not to mention independent, later in life.
- Boost immunity: If you’re prone to colds, headaches and sore throats then chances are you’re doing one, if not all, of the following; working long hours, not getting enough sleep, or burning the candle at both ends. Spending a little time each day practicing gentle yoga has been proven to lower stress levels which gives your body space to breathe and recover, instead of working around the clock. Deep breathing during yoga ensures enough oxygen is being sent to parts of your body that need it most, whilst many of the poses increase blood flow to the sinuses, helping to ease congestion.
- Increase brain function: Studies have found that experiencing a meditative state through practicing yoga can thicken the cerebral cortex – the part of the brain that controls awareness, attention, memory, thoughts and language – when practiced over a long period of time. Exercising the brain through meditation in this way is shown to improve brain performance in those key cerebral cortex areas and aids learning new skills.
- Beat bloating: Activities that improve blood circulation and stretch out the body will help to release the build-up of gas and fluids in the body. Simple yoga poses can prove very effective for this.
- Sweat out impurities: Sweating through exercise is a good way to cleanse the skin of nasties, so why not take it to the next level with hot yoga, like Bikram or Vinyasa, to up the ante? Practicing at a higher temperature demands more energy and encourages the body to sweat more, which has fantastic detoxifying benefits as it removes toxins, grime and bacteria from the pores.