Yoga is an ancient art with its roots stretching back to the Stone Age. Back then, they had aspects of physical poses, self-restraint and spiritual transcendence, but times have changed and even more, poses have been produced. You’re probably familiar with the majority of common stretches such as the Downward Dog pose. But did you know that Hatha Yoga focuses specifically on the physical fitness side of things, meaning strength is essential.
Here’s some of the benefits of yoga, alongside a look at some of the ways to boost your yoga performance. If you feel your strength or flexibility is stopping you from getting the most out of your practice, read on.
Benefits of yoga
Yoga can reduce cortisol
Cortisol is the body’s primary “stress hormone”. Cortisol not only contributes to those familiar, unwelcomed feelings of stress and anxiety, it also promotes the breakdown of tissue around the body, including muscle. When cortisol levels are chronically high, you can expect to feel terrible, and struggle immensely trying to gain mass. Several studies have found evidence that practising yoga regularly can significantly reduce cortisol levels.
Yoga can improve joint health and reduce pain
Many experienced athletes and gym-goers gain joint injuries and chronic pain at some point in their sporting career, however, this can be avoided. Attending Yoga on a regular basis may just be the cure.
Studies have found that yoga is an effective treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as for osteoarthritis of the knee, with yoga improving joint function and reducing pain.
Yoga may improve breathing
Asthmatics and those with other breathing conditions often struggle to perform to the best of their abilities in athletic activities, and can sometimes be put off going to the gym as a result.
If you experience asthma and struggle with more intense workouts, yoga might be a golden solution. Studies show that yogic breathing exercises help improve lung function and “vital capacity” (one measure of lung health).
Yoga improves flexibility
Everyone knows that yoga improves flexibility, and everyone can think of a few situations where improved flexibility could be useful.
It turns out that this particular benefit of yoga isn’t just folk wisdom. A 10-week, 2016 study found that yoga significantly improved flexibility and balance in college athletes.
Yoga can improve sleep
Sleep is far more important for overall health than many people realise. Sleep deprivation can damage your blood sugar control.
Of course, sleep is also essential for proper recovery following exercise, particularly in the case of muscle growth.
Evidence shows that yoga can improve sleep across various dimensions, including by helping people get to sleep faster, helping them sleep for longer, and helping them to feel more rested as a result of their sleep.
Techniques to improve your yoga performance
Don’t be put off if you don’t feel flexible now, because, we are here to help you improve your yoga performance – check out our yoga class timetable.
Do more yoga (with bands)
The best way to improve any activity is to do more of it. Using yoga bands can help you ease into tougher moves.
Do some weighted stretches
Various exercise methodologies have made use of weighted stretches in the past. As long as they’re performed safely, these exercises can be a tremendous asset in the fight against tight muscles.
Typically, weighted stretches are performed by relaxing the body in various positions and allowing the weight, and gravity, to push the stretch. You could perform a weighted pec stretch, for example, by holding two dumbbells in “fly” position and letting your arms stretch out to the sides as far as possible.
Do more push-ups and shoulder exercises
Yoga contains many movements that mimic the push-up in one way or another, and which put tension on the shoulders. Be prepared – practice your push ups and train your shoulders in a gym session once a week.
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