Put Your Health and Wellness First in the New Year
Have you made room for a few health-related items on your list of New Year's resolutions? Finding a form of exercise that provides both physical and mental benefits may be the key to keeping your resolutions. Yoga, a discipline that focuses equally on the mind and body, offers the ideal wellness solution no matter what your age or fitness level.
Yoga Provides Multiple Benefits for Your Health
Improved muscle and joint flexibility is certainly an important advantage of practicing yoga, but it's not the only benefit. Yoga sessions can help you:
- Ease Aches and Pain. Tight muscles and joints can cause pain in your back, shoulders, neck, arms, hips, and legs. Yoga poses are designed to gently stretch, strengthen and tone muscles. Once your muscles are looser and stronger, you may also find that your range of motion, posture, and balance improve.
- Manage Chronic Conditions. "Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured," said well-known Indian yoga instructor B.K.S. Iyengar. Regular yoga sessions may decrease your risk of developing chronic health conditions, such as arthritis or high blood pressure, or help you manage your symptoms if you already have a chronic condition.
- Lose Weight. Yoga can help you drop the extra pounds you acquired over the holidays and tone your abdominal muscles. Mindfulness, an essential part of your yoga practice, will help you focus on fueling your body with healthy foods.
- Improve Heart Health. Adding yoga classes to your calendar may also offer benefits for your heart. In a meta-analysis published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, researchers noted improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, weight, and heart rate in people who participated in yoga.
- Reduce Stress and Anxiety. Stress and anxiety not only affect your mental health but may also contribute to or cause many physical ailments, including heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and immune disorders. Deep breathing and meditation, essential aspects of your yoga practice, will help you learn to calm your mind and reduce stress and anxiety.
- Avoid Illness. Yoga offers a simple way to enhance immune system functioning and avoid colds and illnesses. The movements used in yoga poses make it easier for your lymph system to remove toxins and waste products from your body and also facilitate the movement of white blood cells needed to fight infection.
How to Make Yoga a Priority
Finding time to exercise is often the hardest part of improving your health. These tips may make it easier to make time for yoga sessions in your busy day.
- Consider Yoga Classes Your "Me Time". Everyone deserves to devote a few hours a week to things that enrich and inspire them. Attending yoga classes is an excellent way to recharge, de-stress and turn your focus inward.
- Adapt Your Schedule. A little creativity can help you fit yoga into your schedule. If your life is hectic after work, consider waking up a little early a few times a week to practice yoga. Take advantage of your lunch hour to perform a few asanas in an empty office, perform chair yoga at your desk when you have a break, or schedule a mini session while your baby naps.
- Don't Be a Clock Watcher. Time constraints don't have to affect your ability to practice yoga. You may not have time for a long yoga session every day, but you can probably spare 10 or 15 minutes to perform a few restorative poses or meditate. Although longer sessions offer the most benefit, you'll still enjoy many of the mind/body advantages of yoga if you can only practice for a few minutes at a time.
Would you like to take advantage of the many health and wellness benefits of yoga? Our experienced yoga instructors can help you learn and grow in your yoga practice. Contact us for information on class types and schedules.
European Journal of Preventive Cardiology: The Effectiveness of Yoga in Modifying Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease and Metabolic Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials, 12/15/14