Wednesday, 1 June 2016

5 Benefits of Yoga

Yoga is something that has become a a big part of my life over the last few months and I have really started to notice some of the benefits there are of doing yoga regularly. I never thought I'd be someone who would enjoy yoga as I thought I'd find it way too boring and not my kind of thing - how wrong I was! I decide to try yoga last year as it was one of the methods recommended to me for coping with back pain that I sometimes get due to a spinal fusion a few years ago. Since my first yoga class I haven't looked back and I've been excited to share on my blog some of the benefits I have noticed of practicing yoga. 
(I am not a professional and all of the points below are based on my personal experience with yoga).

1. Yoga can decrease pain - The whole reason I started yoga to begin with is because my doctor and physio recommended it as a way to deal with aches and pains I sometimes experience in my back. I was skeptical at first but after doing some research and reading some peoples experiences it's amazing the results that can be achieved. Much of the aches people experience is due to lack of movement and activity (eg. sitting in an office all day), yoga ensures the body is moving and stretching which is so beneficial. There are many studies out there which show yoga reduces back pain, arthritis and most muscle aches and it definitely helps me a lot.
2. Yoga builds muscle strength and tones the body - Having strong muscles is so important as that is what helps keep them healthy and prevents pain. Working your muscles results in you toning your body (win win!). Practicing yoga regularly will give you a nice, lean figure. You really can feel the burn in particular poses, it's a lot more of a workout than people realise. 
3. Yoga improves flexibility and posture - During my first yoga class I was really shocked by how bad my flexibility was, I struggled in a lot of the basic positions and this showed me how tense and stiff my body was. I noticed an improvement after only a couple of classes which really motivated me. Stretching is so important to relax tight muscles and it's often something that gets forgotten about in the gym. Good posture when sitting and standing is essential to look after your body and yoga really helps with this. 
4. Yoga helps you relax and de-stress - Although I started yoga to help with aches and strengthen my muscles there are a lot of other benefits I hadn't even thought of. Yoga encourages you to relax and focus on breath. A couple of the yoga classes I have been to have used a technique called 'yoga nidra' a form of guided relaxation which is pretty amazing. I never thought I'd be one for meditation, but since learning some breathing techniques it has really helped me and I often use them if I get anxious in a situation. It is hard to get into meditation at first as it can feel a bit strange, but once you let yourself go it really is incredible to forgot your thoughts for a few minutes and de-stress. 
5. Yoga helps you sleep better - After my first yoga class I had the best nights sleep for such a long time. It was an evening class and as soon as it finished I felt so relaxed and fell asleep almost straight away when I went to bed that night. Since then, every time I do a yoga class I always sleep well after. As I mentioned in my last point, yoga helps you relax and de-stress which therefore leads to sleeping better. If I am struggling to sleep I often use the breathing exercises I have learnt from yoga and it really helps to slow the mind down and get to sleep. If you are interested in trying some meditation and breathing exercises I really recommend an app called 'Headspace' and another called 'Calm'. 
Have you ever tried yoga?
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