A low-impact physical exercise, yoga involves holding stretches as you exercise mindfulness. This results in better attention to alignment and bodily sensations. While there are several different kinds of yoga, a lot of basic yoga postures feel very familiar, and they're all designed to strengthen and stretch your major muscle groups while also exercising your mind.
You'll be happy to know that yoga ...
1. Reduces emotional distress
It can benefit those living with depression and insomnia. This is because yoga poses stimulate the production of oxytocin, which is known as the love and bonding hormone. Mindfulness yoga also stimulates serotonin, a hormone that increases feelings of happiness. Those who do yoga consistently long-term have been found to be more content.
2. Improves flexibility
At first, you might not be able to touch your toes, but as you practice yoga consistently, you'll gradually increase your range of motion. You'll also notice that aches and pains diminish. This is because inflexibility and misalignment can contribute to muscle soreness and stiffness. Yoga helps to loosen and strengthen your muscles and brings them into alignment.
3. Strengthens your muscles
Yoga helps you build strength along with flexibility, whereas traditional strength training builds strength but compromises flexibility. Muscle strength is essential to protecting against back pain and arthritis.
4. Corrects your posture
Posture is essential for overall muscle and joint health. Poor posture leads to back and joint problems. Yoga helps to align joints and muscles, enabling you to achieve better posture.
5. Improves your balance
Practicing yoga regularly increases proprioception — a fancy term for awareness of your body in space —as it improves your balance. Improved balance is essential for achieving proper posture, muscle strength, and agility, all of which mean fewer back and knee problems.
6. Sharpens your concentration
This is because an important component of yoga is focusing on the present using meditation. Research shows that meditative yoga improves coordination, reaction time, memory, and IQ scores.
An easy, effective lunch-break yoga sequence
You don't have to dedicate all your time to yoga in order to reap the above physical and mental benefits. All it takes is 15 minutes a day. This routine will set you on your way to a toner, leaner, and more peaceful body and mind.
- Stand with your hands by your side and feet and hips distance apart
- Draw your shoulders away from your ears and closer together on your back
- Stack your hips, rib cage, and head in one vertical line
- Take 10 gentle breaths
- Roll your shoulders and neck
- Inhale and lift your arms over your head
- Lift from the sides of your waist and stretch up
- Exhale as you take your arms out behind you at a 45-degree angle
- Bend at your hips and extend your chest so your torso is elongated
- Take your palms or fingertips to the ground and then crossing your forearms and holding opposite elbows with your hands
- Let your head hang heavy and bend your knees
- Lie on the ground with your knees on the floor and your back arched
- Walk your hands to the front of the mat
- Extend your arms
- Keep your hips above your knees as you rest your forehead on the mat between your arms
- Draw your shoulders onto your back, sending your heels toward the ground