Imagine an activity that increases your flexibility, strengthens your muscles, centers your thoughts, and calms your mind and body. Yoga does all of this and more! When some people think of yoga, they imagine having to bend like a pretzel. That makes them worry that they may be too old, too unfit, or too inflexible to begin yoga. The truth is that everyone can benefit from yoga regardless of age, experience, or level of flexibility.
Here are just some of the ways yoga can benefit you:
Stress Relief: Yoga encourages you to relax, slow your breath, and focus on the present, shifting the balance from the sympathetic nervous system (the fight-or-flight response) to the parasympathetic nervous system. The latter system is calming and restorative; it lowers breathing and heart rates, decreases blood pressure, and increases blood flow to the intestines and reproductive organs
Improved Flexibility: Stretching your tight body in new ways will help it become more flexible, bringing greater range of motion to muscles and joints. Yoga stretches not only your muscles but all of the soft tissues of your body. That includes ligaments, tendons, and the fascia sheath that surrounds your muscles. And no matter your level of yoga, you most likely will see benefits in a very short period of time.
Stronger Muscles: Yoga helps shape long, lean muscles. Strong muscles do more than just look good. They also protect us from conditions like arthritis and back pain. It is well documented that weight-bearing exercise strengthens bones and helps ward off osteoporosis. Many yoga postures are weight-bearing.
Healthier Organs: Yoga is perhaps the only form of activity which massages all the internal glands and organs of the body in a thorough manner. This stimulation and massage of the organs in turn protects us from disease.
Better Breathing: Yoga teaches us to take slower, deeper breaths. This helps to improve lung function, triggers the body’s relaxation and increases the amount of oxygen available to the body.
Complete Detoxification: By gently stretching muscles and joints as well as massaging the various organs, yoga ensures the optimum blood supply to various parts of the body. This helps in the flushing out of toxins throughout the body. These benefits include delayed aging, increased energy and a remarkable zest for life.
Why not give yoga a try and see what it can do for your body, your mind and your soul.
Linda Hill, Certified Yoga Instructor
CNY Healing Arts Center