10 reasons to start with yoga straight away!
There is a number of very good reasons to start with yoga, at any time of the year. However, especially in winter you might benefit even more from a regular practise. Here comes our Top 10 list: 1. Stress relief - Most illnesses are related to stress! Through conscious relaxation yoga helps to reduce cortisol & adrenalin levels in the body, normalises blood pressure and reduces the heart rate. Your body gets a break from ongoing physical and mental activity and can recover properly after periods of stress.
2. Strong immune system - Yoga balances the activity of your glandular system which is closely connected to your immune system. Glands such as the thymus gland (located behind your breast bone) are important for releasing secretions to fight "invaders" that can harm your body. Organs like the liver and the kidneys are stimulated as well helping to flush all kinds of toxins and waste products out of your body.
3. Better breathing - Breathing is the most important thing you do every moment of your life! The proper exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide is absolutely necessary to keep your bodily systems running. If your breath is fast an shallow - as under stress - this exchange cannot happen. As a result you toxify yourself and all other systems in your body will slow down significantly, resulting in mental and physical discomfort or even serious illness. People with asthma can benefit from learning different breathing and relaxation techniques to prevent or reduce the number and intensity of attacs.
4. Improved flexibility & strength - Our lifestyle doesn't really promote flexibility. Most of the time we sit at a desk, in front of the TV or elsewhere on a chair or sofa or in the car. That shortens and weakens a number of muscles in our body. Yoga includes various stretches that help to lengthen and strengthen muscles, tendons and ligaments. Other movements help to mobilise the spine and other joints, e.g. the hip joints.
5. Better posture - Due to mobilising and strengthening your body will be able to re-align its structure, resulting in less effort to stand and sit straight or walk and run with ease. You will learn to recognise habits that are bad for your posture and change to the better.
6. Pain relief - Research has shown that yoga can ease pain significantly. A lot of pain is a result of poor posture. Muscles are too weak to keep the body upright, causing other muscle groups to tighten in order to keep you sitting, walking or standing. Yoga works on all parts of the body improving overall strength and alignment. Another reason for pain is stress. Under stress we naturally activate our muscles ("fight or flight" reflex). If the stress lasts too long, the muscles tighten massively, causing pain. Also, our brain and the nervous system are affected. Mechanisms that were actually designed to safe us in life threatening situations can slow down the blood circulation e.g. in your head or in the digestive system, causing headaches or abdominal pain. People with serious conditions such as cancer, or those facing a surgery can also benefit from yoga and meditation as they learn how to actively relax and stimulate the release of pain reducing hormones in the body.
7. Improved cardiovascular health - Since yoga is a holistic practise working on all parts and layers of the body even a gentle practise helps to reduce the heart rate and balance the blood pressure. Improved blood circulation increases the oxygen level in all areas of the body, resulting in improved endurance and a greater ability to recover afterwards.
8. Weight loss/weight management - Yoga has a positive effect on your metabolism (the ability of your body to use the components of food to nourish all kinds of bodily systems). Even a gentle style helps to burn calories. Cravings for sweets or greasy food will be reduced over the time as they are only signs of imbalances in your body - which will be reduced through regular practise. Furthermore, yoga as a holistic practise encourages conscious food choices and healthy eating habits. Yoga can also help to let go of a negative self-image and unrealistic ideals.
9. Improved mental health - Impaired mental health can have very different reasons, but in most cases some form of ongoing stress is involved. Symptoms can be insomnia, anxiety, depression, and/or chronic fatigue. Yoga, especially relaxation and meditation, helps you to calm down and allow body and mind a break so that your chemistry - hormones and other substances in your body - can get back to a normal level. As a result you will be able to think more clearly and can let go of negative thoughts. Yoga also leads to improved self-awareness and self-esteem and the ability of detaching from negative thoughts and situations. In the meantime, many practitioners include meditation and mindfulness in treatment plans for their patients.
10. Non-competitive practise - Yoga is no competition! Although I notice every now and then that students look around to see who can bend and twist the most, yoga is not about being better than your neighbour. It is a practise to improve YOUR health and YOUR wellbeing. It's about learning about yourself and accepting yourself. Accept your limits, discover your abilities and enjoy the present moment! As you can see, it is worth to get off your comfy sofa and make your way to the yoga class!