While many exercise and fitness programs focus on the physical side of health, yoga is unique. It blends strength and mobility with breath work and balance. This powerful combination allows you to improve your physical health and mental well-being.
As we recognize #NationalYogaDay2021, our team at the Chambers Center for Well-Being shares these five ways yoga boosts your overall wellness.
1. You’ll develop balance.
Balance includes three things: strength, stability and muscle awareness. The many poses of yoga—such as the Warrior III pose—allow you to work on all three areas at once. Active stretching through yoga also improves your flexibility and increases your mobility because it strengthens and lengthens your ligaments and muscles. This gives your joints the space they need for deeper movements and reduces your risk for pulled muscles, overextended joints, or ligament or tendon injuries.
2. You’ll gain a sense of body awareness.
When you practice yoga postures, you’ll focus on body and joint alignment, muscle engagement and breathing. This will give you a sense of what we call “body awareness,” a feeling of knowing which body parts are engaged, which are relaxed, and where they are in relation to the rest of your body. A better sense of body awareness can help you recognize and relieve tension in your body, enhance your posture and improve your breathing in stressful situations.
3. You’ll strengthen your joints.
Joint strength begins with body awareness. As yoga trains your mind to recognize the muscles around your joints, it also provides something called isometric strength. That’s the most essential and basic form of strength needed to stabilize your joints, hold positions and maintain good posture.
Because strength-based yoga focuses on holding challenging positions for a period of time, it helps you to strengthen deeper muscle fibers and develop smaller supporting muscles as larger muscles become fatigued. This isometric strength improves joint stability and increases muscle endurance. All of this will help you train harder and perform better at sports and other activities. It also will make your hips, knees and ankles stronger and healthier.
4. You’ll relieve stress.
Breath work during yoga plays a vital role in reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and providing better mental clarity overall. In addition, yoga can help relieve insomnia. It’s also beneficial in easing pain following joint surgeries or other procedures.
5. You’ll heal from illnesses better.
The slow, simple and mindful movements of yoga prepare the respiratory structures for breathing practices and provide another way to help start regulating a dysfunctional nervous system. Yoga also helps you regulate the autonomic nervous system, which controls the body’s fight-or-flight response. The autonomic nervous system regulates bodily functions such as heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, pupillary response, urination and sexual arousal. Better autonomic nervous system regulation can help to support your mental health and empower your recover from chronic illnesses, viruses like COVID-19 and other health conditions.
Want to experience the benefits of yoga for yourself? Sign up for restorative or power yoga at the Chambers Center for Well-Being. Check out our menu of services.