There are many myths around yoga, including that it is only good for increased flexibility.
Actually, there are many physical health benefits of yoga ranging from building your muscle strength and releasing joint tension, to boosting your immune system and improving your heart health.
Sure, regular yoga practice does also help you to become more flexible, but there is so much more to it than just that!
In this article we try to explain some of the many benefits yoga can have on your body.
Builds Muscle Strength
Regular yoga practice is an excellent way to build muscles and improve body strength. Through holding poses, you will be using your muscles to lift your body. In a class, the teacher can use pose variations to progressively increase the difficulty to cause more tension.
If you practice yoga regularly your muscles will build up naturally. Poses that use the full body are the most effective to boost strength and endurance, such as dog, warrior and tree.
Some styles of yoga are more physical than others. Depending on what class you choose, poses can help build upper-body, leg and abdominal strength, as well as bolster your back.
Yoga encourages you to become more body aware and the teachers will encourage you to stand tall while keeping your chest open. You will practice how to maintain good posture throughout your yoga classes.
In our day-to-day lives, we tend to slump and slouch as we spend our time sitting at desks or in cushioned chairs. Yoga promotes good posture and over time, you will become more aware of how you stand and sit.
By using a combination of postures during classes, you will work towards proper alignment of the spine and pelvis. With frequent practice, old habits will be replaced with new and healthier ways of standing and sitting.
Boosts Your Immune System
As you flow from one pose to another, your muscles contract and stretch; this will help move the lymph around your body which can reduce inflammation.
Inflammation is a natural response of the immune system triggered to fight infections. However, prolonged and excessive inflammation can lead to certain diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
By moving dynamically and practising flowing sequences with your breath, you will naturally pump your muscles. This helps your body to fight infection and dispose of toxic waste products.
Helps You to Breathe
Yoga is not all about physical movement though, all practices incorporate breathing techniques as you flow from one sequence to another. These techniques include breathing through the nose and taking longer, deeper breaths.
Being conscious of your breathing helps you to become more aware of movements in your body. Normally when you breathe, your chest will expand slightly, and your belly will rise a little, at yoga we learn to fully inflate the belly as lung function improves.
During yoga classes, you will be encouraged to breathe deeply, extend the length of your breaths and maybe even pause during breaths. Breathing exercises can help improve lung function, strengthen your diaphragm and calm your nervous system.
Improves Heart Health
Movement and flow sequences gets the blood pumping around the body. Not only will this help provide oxygen to your muscles, but it will also help your circulation.
Breathing, relaxation and meditation can help relax the nervous system and lower blood pressure. If your blood pressure is too high, it means that your heart has to work harder to pump blood around the body. The heart is a muscle too and can be overworked.
Improving circulation and reducing blood pressure can help reduce your risk of heart disease.
Increases Flexibility and Balance
One well known physical health benefit of yoga is that it can help improve flexibility. Yoga encourages you to stretch your muscles and takes your joints through a range of motion.
When you begin yoga, you may feel stiff and rigid but with practice, patience and perseverance you will notice that it becomes more comfortable to be in the postures as your muscles loosen up, your breathing slows and you mind calms.
Increasing strength and flexibility in the muscles and joints directly relates to balance. Through movement and focusing your attention on posture, your balance and coordination will improve.
Releases Tension and Prevents Joint Breakdown
Every time you practice yoga, your joints go through a range of motion. If your joints are not used regularly, cartilage can eventually wear out, causing pain and reducing your range of movement.
Yoga uses techniques to stretch and relax muscles, which ultimately promotes relaxation and flexibility of the joints. Strengthening muscles will help support the joints as it reduces strain on the joints.
Eases Chronic Pain
Chronic pain refers to pain that lasts longer than 3-6 months. A good way to reduce chronic pain is to reduce stress by learning relaxation techniques.
Yoga uses the mind and body connection to help manage chronic pain. Through meditation, relaxation and breathing exercises, you can begin to feel less stressed, more content and better equipped to cope with life’s challenges.
If you are suffering from pain in a certain area in your body, you may be tempted to move that body part less often to reduce the risk of exasperating the pain. This can cause the area to stiffen and lead to more pain.
Taking part in yoga practice means that you keep moving and gently stretch out the affected area. You do not have to push your limits with yoga as gentle movement is encouraged.
Start Feeling the Physical Health Benefits of Yoga by Booking a Class
At Uckfield Yoga Studio, we have more than 25 sessions of yoga every week. There is something to suit everyone as we provide a wide variety of classes to match your needs and tastes.
Yoga practice is a way of nourishing your wellbeing on all levels – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually and you will feel the benefits after every class. It is also a great way to stretch your muscles, build strength, chill out and tune in to the peaceful part of yourself.
Our teachers are qualified, experienced and willing to share their knowledge. Whatever stage you are at, they will welcome you into our non-judgemental space and support you with regular yoga practice through your health journey.
Find out more about the classes we offer at Uckfield Yoga Studio.
Currently, we are offering classes in the studio (up to 6 participants) and sessions online through Zoom. Check our timetable to find the yoga class you have been searching for.