Besides being "in," yoga is an incredibly beneficial activity for all ages and abilities. The health benefits of yoga are great, and many people are much happier as a result of their practice.
If you have never stepped onto a yoga mat, or if it has been a while since you've taken a yoga class, the following reasons why you should get with the program may inspire you to make it a priority.
1. Yoga training can help reduce muscle soreness after a strength workout
A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that after a bout of eccentric training (workouts that cause muscle soreness the next day), a single bout of yoga significantly improve soreness the next day. While I know some people enjoy feeling muscle soreness the next day after a workout, some people do their best to avoid it. If you want to reduce your muscle soreness, try yoga out. It may also be helpful for those who have a race or competition coming. It is important to continue to train but soreness can hinder performance.
2. Yoga can improve posture
There are three main factors you want to consider when trying to improve posture and yoga addresses all of them. First, you need chest opening stretches to release tight muscles such as the pectorals and lats. Next you need core integration. A strong core builds the foundation for solid posture. And finally you need back strengthening exercises. Yoga will help improve all three of these resulting in much better posture.
3. Yoga reduces back pain
A study took a group of individuals who suffered from low back pain. Some were in the control group who did nothing, and two other groups either took yoga classes or were given a yoga video to do on their own. After 12 weeks, the group that took the classes and those who followed the videos at home saw significant improvements with lower back pain compared to the control group.
4. Yoga improves balance, flexibility, and muscular strength
Another study took a group of people who had never performed yoga. They completed two sessions per week for 8 weeks and saw significant improvements in balance, flexibility, and upper and lower body muscular strength. Another similar study found that yoga even helped improve muscular endurance. Although there were no significant changes in body composition these were pretty amazing results.
5. Yoga can help with depression
We all have suffered from times when we are feeling down. However, if you are suffering from serious depression, you should be seeking help from a professional therapist. A study was conducted with cancer survivors who completed seven weeks of yoga training. They found that after the seven weeks those who did the yoga experienced positive changes in emotional function, reduced depression, and reduced mood disturbances. One of the most beneficial aspects of yoga is its ability to help reduce stress. If you are feeling run down, depressed, or just stressed out, give a yoga class a try and see how you feel after.
6. Yoga can give you better body awareness
Having a keen sense of your body has a plethora of benefits. For starters, you will be less likely to overeat, you'll know exactly which foods serve your body best, you'll respect your body's need to get more rest or get more exercise, and you'll experience heightened sensual pleasure during sex.
(Brittany Gatson reported this story for the Michigan Chronicle.)