Yoga: physical & contemplative
Yoga: more than just physical exercise, with a meditative and spiritual core, I believe its ability to nourish the body, mind and spirit is why it has become such a popular element in many fitness and exercise routines. However, at the most simplistic and practical level, it is a wonderful form of exercise and is excellent for improving flexibility, strength, balance and posture, all important factors for overall fitness. What’s more, adding just a few yoga poses to your daily exercise routine could help with your health, lowering risk factors around high blood pressure and stress, in turn helping reduce the risk of heart disease.
Yoga and its potential impact on health has certainly proven to be a popular research topic:
- A 2006 study found yoga helped lower cholesterol levels and improved circulation in individuals with cardiovascular disease
- According to scientists at Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital, Delhi, Anasa yoga has a beneficial effect on blood sugar control and can improve nerve function in type 2 diabetics who have mild nerve damage
- Preliminary research from Boston University School of Medicine found that healthy individuals who practice yoga for an hour can significantly improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety
- A preliminary study at the University of California found that menopausal women who took two months of a weekly yoga class reported a 30% decrease in hot flushes
- Yet another study found Hatha style yoga could improve muscular strength, flexibility and endurance
Yoga comes in many different forms, but all the exercises require concentration. Helping to focus the mind on the task at hand, rather than worrying about other issues, explains why the discipline is particularly effective in helping reduce stress.
Vigorous Power, Vinyasa or Ashtanga yoga done for 90 minutes 3-5 times a week could produce weight loss.
Ultimately Yoga is a wonderful addition to an exercise routine with the added benefits of keeping people in tune with their bodies, helping with general wellness, good health and in fighting stress and depression.
Do not try learning yoga on your own. Work with an experienced and qualified instructor to learn proper form to perform the exercises and avoid injuries.
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