Relax, and Discover the Benefits of Yoga
Many people, especially men, are afraid to try yoga because it’s different. Yoga isn’t like any of the traditionally recommended methods for improving health and well-being in America. Men especially gravitate towards the more competitive activities for getting in shape, such as basketball, racketball, etc (picture sprained ankles and welts on the back of the neck–now that’s “manly”). Mention yoga to the average guy and it’s likely he’s going to try to change the subject. Fortunately, the health and fitness benefits of yoga are now being confirmed by scientific research and more and more people are giving yoga a chance. In fact, most people, men included, are finding yoga to be a fantastic source of health and inspiration.
Now that yoga is becoming less scary to many, they are discovering that there is a whole list of benefits that go along with a regular yoga practice. If you’re looking for some motivation to keep practicing, or you’re just getting started with yoga, here is a list of nine great benefits of yoga that you can expect:
Yoga reduces the physical effects of stress on the body. By encouraging relaxation, yoga helps to lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Related benefits include lowering blood pressure and heart rate, improving digestion and boosting the immune system as well as easing symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, asthma and insomnia.
Yoga can ease pain. Studies have continued to show that practicing yoga poses, meditation or a combination of the two, reduced pain for people with conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, auto-immune diseases and hypertension as well as arthritis, back and neck pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, eczema, irritable bowel syndrome and other chronic conditions. Some students report that even emotional pain can be eased through the practice of yoga.
Yoga teaches people to take slower, deeper breaths. This helps to improve lung function, trigger the body’s relaxation response and increase the amount of oxygen available to the body.
The most obvious benefits of yoga is that it helps to improve flexibility and mobility, increasing range of movement and reducing aches and pains. Many people can’t touch their toes during their first yoga class. Practitioners begin to use the correct muscles to make the movement and, over time, the ligaments, tendons and muscles gradually lengthen and elasticity is increased. These gradual changes can mean that more and more poses are possible.
Yoga postures use every muscle in the body, helping to increase strength literally from head to toe. And, while the postures practiced in yoga strengthen the body, they also provide an additional benefit of helping to relieve muscular tension.
Yoga (even less vigorous styles) can aid weight control efforts by reducing the cortisol levels as well as by burning excess calories and reducing stress. Yoga also encourages healthy eating habits and provides a heightened sense of well being and self esteem.
Yoga helps to improve circulation and, as a result of various poses, more efficiently moves oxygenated blood to the body’s cells.
BETTER BODY ALIGNMENT
Yoga helps to improve body alignment, resulting in better posture and helping to relieve back, neck, joint and muscle problems.
FOCUS ON THE PRESENT
Yoga helps us to focus on the present, to become more aware and to help create mind body health. It opens the way to improved coordination, reaction time and memory.
I would love to see you in one of my yoga classes. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to call me at 712-256-1800!
Wall Sit with a Ball
In this exercise make sure that you are constantly squeezing the ball between your thighs. Begin with 1 rep of 15-30 seconds at 90º-120° angle. As that becomes easier, increase the amount of time and repetitions. The deeper you sit, the more you’re engaging the muscles, making this exercise more challenging.
With this exercise, stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes slightly turned out. Begin with reps of 10. Once that becomes easier, you can increase to 2 sets of 10 reps. Also, adding in free weights will increase the difficulty.
When performing this, step your left leg behind you and to the right so your thighs cross, bending both knees as if you were curtsying. Make sure your front knee is aligned with your front ankle. Just like the sumo squat, begin with reps of 10. Once that becomes easier, you can increase to 2 set of 10 reps. Adding in free weights will increase the difficulty for this exercise as well.