Have you been putting off yoga because you don’t think it’s a good physical workout? Are you turned off by the name of some of the poses, like the Downward Dog? Maybe you’re worried you’ll get into some strange position and not be able to get yourself out?
Yoga, which originated in ancient India, is a form of exercise that’s known not only to condition the body, but the mind and spirit as well. It started to gain popularity in the 1980’s and can now be found in most gyms and fitness centers around the world.
There are many physical benefits you’ll receive if you practice yoga on a regular basis. They include:
- More flexibility
- Greater strength
- Improved posture
- Fewer back problems
- Less fatigue
- Increased GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) levels which improve mood and reduce anxiety, according to a study listed in the Journal of Alternative & Complimentary Medicine
- Improved heart condition and function, according to research by Harvard University
In addition to the many physical advantages of doing yoga, there are several mental benefits as well. It lowers stress, anxiety and depression and is known to improve mood. A study published in the Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse found that yoga helps people who are suffering with addiction improve their overall quality of life.
Types of Yoga
Many fitness facilities offer several different styles of yoga. So, how do you know which one is right for you?
Ask the trainer who runs the classes what their recommendation is. There are classes that are gentle and move you slowly from one pose to the next, like Hatha and Ananda. However, there are also styles that are more aerobic and cause you to work up a sweat, such as Asthang and Power Yoga. Bikram yoga is performed in a heated environment of 95-105 degrees which is an important consideration for a lot of people.
Whichever one you decide, you’re sure to get great benefits. You’ll bend in ways you never knew possible.