February 25, 2013

Yoga! Exercise For The Body, Mind and Soul

Throughout daily life, there are time constraints, stressors and hectic schedules that come banging down our doors! You’re busy, busy, busy, and you inevitably will start to feel the effects that come with such hard work. Though working out might be on your never-ending list of TO-DO’s, finding the motivation after long days may be a constant struggle.If stepping outside for a run just isn’t your cup of tea, maybe it’s time to try something a little different. An ancient practice dating back to 4,000 years ago in India, Yoga, focuses on connecting the body and mind through a series of sitting, standing, and balancing poses. Studies show that practicing Yoga regularly can add up to some serious health benefits for you! So grab your magic carpet; i.e. your yoga mat, throw on something casual and comfortable, and open your mind to a form of exercise that has been attracting quite a following over the past few years. A low-impact exercise that’s good for your joints and welcoming to all fitness levels could be just what you need to shake off the negative energy you’ve been harboring.

Yoga

Get “Yogi” Happy
The first health benefit of yoga deals with mental health. Studies show that practicing yoga for at least an hour a week raises levels of the chemical GABA. Because low levels of this chemical have been linked to depression, Yoga could be just what you need to pull yourself out of that afternoon funk and keep yourself upbeat and positive on a daily basis! (Wouldn’t that be nice?)

Say Goodbye to Body Aches
Sitting at your desk all day can leave you feeling like the Hunchback of Notre Dame and maybe even looking like it too. With such fast-paced lifestyles we sometimes forget to focus on our posture, and allow all of our stress to find refuge in our spine and back. This can leave you feeling pretty lousy and achy all over, especially in that upper back region. Yoga can ease these pains by allowing you to recognize where these tensions exist and showing you how best to release them. Yoga strengthens back muscles and improves posture, both of which are super important in reducing muscle pain.

Subtle Toning
While critics may scoff at the thought of building muscle through Yoga, regular practice (just like any other exercise) will leave you as tone as Arnold Schwarzenegger. (ok maybe not that beefy!) But you are promised to see some major changes in body tone and fast! Yoga poses focus on isolating small and large muscle groups simultaneously. Though the strength-building poses can be difficult at first, focusing on breathing will get you through each pose and on to the next without wanting to roll your mat up and throw it at your instructor for putting you through such pain. Each time you hit the mat you’ll be tronger than the last, until one day, when you realize that the poses are coming naturally. (and that your back fat has vanished and been replaced with long and lean muscle!)

Confidence Booster
While the list of health benefits linked to Yoga is long and not limited to those named here, we’ll end with one that I appreciate personally. Yoga has been found to boost body confidence. Though this may seem like a no-brainer (duh, you’re exercising!), studies show that Yogis have a 20 percent higher body confidence than those who do other forms of exercise. We can thank Yoga’s magical way of making us focus on what our body can do and how it feels rather than how it looks, for this little added bonus.

You may find that Yoga isn’t for you and that’s “A” okay! There are plenty of other ways to boost your energy, relieve tension and stress, tone up, and build confidence. Just don’t restrict yourself. Keep trying new things until you find the perfect cocktail for a healthy lifestyle that fits you just right.

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