The benefits of yoga

This holiday season I’m participating in a yoga challenge hosted by the studio I attend.  The goal is to get 30 practices in between November 15th and December 31st.  I’m not sure if I will hit the goal, but I’m going to try!

I’ve noticed that going to yoga more frequently has helped me in many ways.  My strength, flexibility and emotional state have all improved.

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Most people love yoga for the flexibility and stress relief benefits.  And there is scientific evidence to back up these benefits.

Asanas, a series of yoga poses often used to improve flexibility, release lactic acid buildup from the muscles which cause stiffness.  The series can also increase your range of motion, decreasing your risk of injury in everyday activities.  Many participants will start to see the flexibility benefits of practicing yoga within the first two months.  Most improvements are seen initially in the shoulder and trunk areas.

Power yoga can increase your strength as well as flexibility.  My goal with this challenge is to improve my poses so I can soon try power yoga.  This type of yoga is more vigorous in which moves such as plank, downward facing dog and standing poses are used to build muscle strength and endurance for both the upper and lower body.  Hopefully in January I will feel comfortable enough in my practice to try out a power yoga class!

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A lot of people practice yoga for its mental benefits.  Even first time yoga participants state they feel more relaxed and less stress after completing a yoga class.  Whether the yoga style focuses on deep breathing or meditation, a calming nature dominates the activity.  Following the calming atmosphere comes happiness.  A person’s mood tends to be lifted after attending a yoga class.

Your heart benefits from yoga as well.  A study performed by Dean Ornish, MD, a renowed physician and founder of the Preentative Medicine Research Institute, found that yoga decreased heart rate, blood pressure, triglyceride level and total cholesterol level.  The study points to an antioxidant effect of yoga, which reaps the benefits on heart health.

While yoga is not going to help you burn a lot of calories to lose weight in an efficient manner, it does provide many benefits to your heart, joints and mind.  If you are interested in trying yoga, find a local gym or studio or visits to find an instructor near you.


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