Health Benefits of Yoga
Written By: RJ Lisander
I hear it everyday from my roost at Empower Personalized Fitness. Now is the time of year where we are all looking at our overall health and rededicating ourselves to our healthy eating habits and exercise routines. For many, these exercise regimes include running, weight lifting and intense cardio workouts. But, there is another form of exercise that you should consider adding for overall health benefits too … slow down, stretch and feel the myriad benefits of yoga. Below are just a few examples of how yoga can compliment your current and ongoing workouts…
Joint lubrication: As we age the muscles and connective tissue become dehydrated causing increased stiffness, uncomfortable movement. Stretching through slow and held yoga poses such as twists, forward folds, and backbends help stimulate the production of lubricants. This results in increased flexibility and the potential for less injury.
Strength training: Though you have to actually practice yoga to experience this, yoga offers intensive strength-training. The balancing required in many poses help stabilize core and primary muscles. Still other poses will transfer your entire body weight onto muscle groups not typically used for that purpose. These exercises help build lean muscles without adding bulk.
Calorie burn: Even gentle stretching burns calories. Some forms of yoga, when done routinely, can burn enough calories to help people loose weight by burning fat, which is replaced by muscle.
Improved athletic performance: Yoga helps condition the body, build muscle, and increase flexibility which helps improve all components of your workout. Building core strength, increased overall strength and improved body condition mean you’ll be able to work harder during your aerobic and weight lifting sessions.
Improved balance and posture: Yoga helps people stand taller and walk with increased balance. Certain poses can help improve neurological problems and help improve the strength of the back and neck muscles, which also helps improve and steady gait.
Assistance with the improvement of chronic health conditions: Breathing and stretching can reduce blood pressure, ease the discomfort of osteo-and rheumatoid arthritis, balance hormonal imbalances associated with menopause or pregnancy, improve digestion, ease constipation, and lessen the effects of irritable bowel syndrome. And, a November 2011 issue of the “Annals of Internal Medicine” discussed a study where it was concluded that 12 weeks of stretching was more effective in improving pain and function in people with chronic low back pain than the usual course of medical care and pain medication. The Mayo Clinic has identified Downward Facing Dog, a traditional yoga pose that stretches the shoulders, calves and hamstrings, as a pose that also offers some relief for conditions such as sinusitis, asthma, sciatica and high blood pressure.
Still aren’t convinced? I don’t blame you, almost a decade ago I was a sceptic, but one class changed my mind. Now, I am one of the fortunate who gets to teach yoga. Intrigued? Well, consider this a personal invitation join us at Empower Personalized Fitness for a yoga class or two and experience first-hand the compliment slowing down, breathing and stretching can be to your workout and overall well-being.
Empower Personalized Fitness has a number of class offerings and if you are new to Empower, the first class is absolutely free. For more information on the schedule and types of yoga offered at Empower, visit us at our website: www.becomepowerful.com.
We hope to see you on the mat!
RJ is a member of International Association of Yoga Therapists, Yoga Alliance and is CPR AED certified. RJ holds a 200-hour Prana Flow® teacher certification from Evolve Movement, Raleigh, NC and is working toward her 1000-hour certification in yoga therapy through a combination of intensive study with Joseph and Lillian LaPage at Kripalu and internship. Additionally, RJ holds a Bachelors of Arts in English with a minor in Creative Writing from West Virginia University.