Though Yoga did not get a foothold in the United States until the 1960’s, it has actually been a legitimate form of exercise for centuries, with stone statues depicting yoga poses found in the Indus Valley dating back 5,000 years or more (according to the American Yoga Association). Just because it has been around a long time is not a good enough reason to do it, but the health benefits are.
Yoga has a number of very important health benefits but, since the first thing most people think of is flexibility, lets start with that.
Poses done in Yoga can improve your overall flexibility and joint range of motion, which can combat a number of issues that arise for those who do a lot of traditional strength training, or just have physical jobs. The damage done to muscle tissue from strength training especially but also everyday life activities can build up what is essentially scar tissue in the muscles that can over the years reduce a muscle's maximum range causing joint pain, posture issues, uneven wear of joints and more. So by working on flexibility around all of your joints and muscles you can effectively improve overall body function and quality of life.
Yoga has been linked to lowering blood pressure and heart rate and it does this not only by means of releasing “good” hormones into your body like many other forms of exercise but it can also have an extra stress relieving effect which bumps up those “good” hormones and drops the “bad” ones even more. There are even studies that suggest yoga can improve immune function in the body.
Breathing and Body Awareness:
When breathing is focused on during a Yoga routine extra care is taken to keep lungs open which causes the body to have to work against some of its natural tendencies to hold the breath. This hold is typical seen while doing movements that require the abdominals, obliques and lower back to contract to stabilize a position or to move through a position. By concentrating on keeping your lungs open, you train your body to be more “connected” in the sense that you are teaching your body to be able to use all muscle groups simultaneously rather than just a few at a time which typically is easier for your body not just in energy consumption but also concentration.
By forcing your body to work in a more “complete” way you also inadvertently teach your body how to adapt to changing demands more readily. This happens not so much in the muscles themselves but in the brain and how the brain processes physical demands. This is one of the most important aspects of Yoga, or any other type of functional, multi planer exercises.
If you need to improve flexibility and you would also like an extra boost to heart health and body awareness then Yoga is definitely a good place to start especially this routine which uses relatively beginner friendly moves. If you are a true beginner and are not very flexible than just limit your range of motion as needed. Just keep at it on a regular basis and you will improve your flexibility in no time.
- Freeform Routine
- Total Body Yoga Stretch
- Exercise Mat (optional)
- None Needed