Historically yoga was more than just a method of teaching; it was a way of life. You dedicated yourself to a lifestyle and culture that surpassed meditation techniques and included healthy eating habits, bathing habits, social interaction and work. Its philosophy is rooted in a physical culture of health and well-being that is still emphasised today at yoga sessions and explains why over 15 million people in the world now practise this ancient tradition.
Every yoga asana (pose) has a different name and includes standing postures, seated twists, backbends, arm balances, inversions and core holds. The downward facing dog for example, is in itself said to calm the brain, energise the body, improve digestion, strengthen arms and legs and be therapeutic for high blood pressure. Whilst these benefits come as a given with most postures, the practise of yoga as a whole provides many more benefits than you might think :
- Enhanced Fat Loss – Yoga is not often credited for its fat burning properties. However, if you chose the right type of yoga, you can burn close to 600 calories per hour. Two of the most effective types of yoga for burning fat are Bikram/Hot Yoga (477 calories per hour and Vinyasa Yoga/Flow Yoga (594 calories per hour).
- Improved Balance – Many yoga moves involve holding your body in positions which test your balance to the limit. As a result, your balance naturally improves with regular yoga. This improved balance enhances the co-ordination between your brain and your muscles, increases your core stability and helps you isolate individual muscles more effectively.
- Better Breathing – A further benefit of yoga is that it promotes slower, more controlled breathing. This opens up your chest, soothes respiratory disorders (such as asthma and bronchitis), boosts digestion and much more.
- Reduced Soreness – Yoga relaxes your entire body and helps to loosen up your joints, muscles and more. In addition to this, it promotes good posture and enhances circulation. This has a soothing effect on your entire body and helps to alleviate chronic pain and soreness.
- Enhanced Muscle Strength & Tone – One final benefit of yoga is that it strengthens and tones all the muscles in your body without adding size. The dynamic nature of yoga also helps your muscles to develop in balance with each other and ensures that certain muscle groups don’t get neglected. In addition to this, the way that yoga exercises target your muscles helps to develop functional strength and endurance which makes performing day to day tasks such as grocery shopping and general lifting much easier.