Yoga and mindfulness have literally taken Ireland by storm in the last decade! There are classes in every town and village in the country, endless YouTube videos so you can practice at home, books and magazines on the subject and now teachers are even bringing it into schools !!! People are shouting from the rooftops about how yoga has transformed their lives and led them on the path of self discovery, health and wellness.
I have compiled 7 benefits of a regular yoga practice, some which you might find surprising!!!
1. Improved flexibility
Regular yoga practice can help muscles to become more balanced and to stretch as well as contract. Flexibility is important in our day to day lives to keep our bodies mobile and supple and to avoid injury. Physical fitness and flexibility have many positive effects on the body. For instance, it improves mobility, posture, muscle coordination, reduces the risk of injuries and muscle soreness. ... It increases your range of motion and makes it easier for you to live your day to day life.
2. Stronger body
Yoga uses your own body weight to preform asanas or postures, there are no fancy weights or equipment needed, just you and gravity! Weight bearing is very important to maintain healthy strong bones and to help in the fight against premature ageing and bone loss.
3. Better sleep
The physical movement of the yoga practice coupled with the breath focus helps to create a relaxed sate of mind which can promote better sleep patterns. A simple yoga practice before bedtime can help to calm and destress the mind and prepare for a full night of rest. A good night sleep leads to better mood and increased energy the next day.
4. Helps reduce anxiety and stress
What happens when you get a fright? Usually you hold your breath, right? When you are excited? The breath can speed up. Our emotions have a very strong connection to our breath and are influenced by the tempo of our breath. Learning ways to control and influence our breath is called pranyama, this is what makes yoga a completely different experience to an aerobics class or a session at the gym. The breathing techniques you learn at yoga practice can be taken off the mat and used in everyday situations to help soothe and calm anxiety and stress.
5. Less aches and pains
We all want to live a pain free, full and healthy life. Aches and pains can creep in over time due to inactivity in the physical body. This can be due to lifestyle, our jobs or even an injury. Finding the right yoga class for you can aid in reducing stiffness and tiredness and can help increase range of motion in the joints.
6. Can help you achieve weight loss goals
A 2016 study suggested that people who practiced yoga and mindfulness were better able to achieve their weight loss goals. People who were regularly practicing were better able to resist unhealthy food and comfort eating.
Its is advised not to practice yoga directly after eating or on a full stomach so you may find you make better and healthier eating choices before and after doing yoga.
Once you begin to take care of your physical body and feel the benefits of yoga especially better sleep, you will find that eating healthy will come as second nature.
7. Better sex life!!!
Before you get all red faced and start thinking of the Kama Sutra, take a minute to think about what might be getting in the way of you relaxing in the bedroom and making the most of your quality time with your partner. One of the main benefits of regular yoga practice is stress reduction and one of the main things getting in the way of us relaxing can be stress!!
Yoga and meditation practices are very useful at helping to clear the mind of unwanted thoughts so that you can get on with the job at hand. Couple this with all of the other amazing yoga benefits and your on to a winner!!
Christine Dunworth is the lead teacher and owner at YoGrá Yoga Studio in Kilcock, Co. Kildare, Ireland. She has been practicing yoga for over a decade and teaches yoga and Pilates to people of all abilities and levels.
Book a class with Christine today at www.yograyoga.ie