Yoga is an amazing form of exercise. Unlike stretching or other forms of fitness, yoga is more than just physical postures; we connect the movement of the body and the fluctuations of the mind to the rhythm of our breathing. The awareness that we cultivate is what makes yoga a practice, rather than a task or a goal to be completed. Your body will most likely become much more flexible by doing yoga, and so will your mind!
Improves Flexibility – One of the first and most obvious benefits of yoga. During your first class, you probably won’t be able to touch your toes, never mind do a backbend. But if you stick with it, you’ll notice a gradual loosening, and eventually, seemingly impossible poses will become possible.
Perfects your posture – Your head is like a bowling ball—big, round, and heavy. When it’s balanced directly over an erect spine, it takes much less work for your neck and back muscles to support it. Move it several inches forward, however, and you start to strain those muscles. Hold up that forward-leaning bowling ball for eight or 12 hours a day and it’s no wonder you’re tired. And fatigue might not be your only problem. Poor posture can cause back, neck, and other muscle and joint problems. As you slump, your body may compensate by flattening the normal inward curves in your neck and lower back. This can cause pain and degenerative arthritis of the spine.
Improves Balance – Regularly practicing yoga increases proprioception (the ability to feel what your body is doing and where it is in space) and improves balance. People with bad posture or dysfunctional movement patterns usually have poor proprioception, which has been linked to knee problems and back pain. Better balance could mean fewer falls. For the elderly, this translates into more independence and delayed admission to a nursing home or never entering one at all. For the rest of us, postures like Tree Pose can make us feel less wobbly on and off the mat.
Builds muscle strength– Strong muscles do more than look good. They also protect us from conditions like arthritis and back pain. And when you build strength through yoga, you balance it with flexibility. If you just went to the gym and lifted weights, you might build strength at the expense of flexibility.
Shaun is a former collegiate track and field athlete (100m, long jump, high jump) and currently is pursuing his Doctorate in Physical Therapy at Northwestern University. As a future healthcare professional and former captain of his college team, he knows how to motivate others to work hard toward achieving their goals. Shaun’s interests include: sports conditioning, functional mobility, speed and plyometric training, injury prevention and elderly fitness screening.Meet Shaun meet our team
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