I'll be the first to admit, I used to be a yoga skeptic. Back in the days when I thought the only point of a workout was to burn as many calories as possible and be extremely sore the next day, yoga just didn't cut it! However, since I've gotten older and wiser, I can now appreciate and enjoy yoga for it's many benefits, and I want to share some of those benefits with you!
Learning to breath properly is something we talk about a lot at Achieve! Obviously breathing is important - it keeps us alive! But breathing properly keeps us functioning optimally and allows us more freedom to move and live at our highest potential.
A big issue we see quite often is people trying to use high-threshold strategies to complete exercises or even activities of daily living. A high-threshold strategy means you hold your breath and use an exorbitant amount of tension in order to complete the task at hand. This not only makes people less efficient, but also puts them at a higher risk for injury down the road.
Most yoga instructors will spend the beginning of class addressing your breathing and will remind you throughout the class to relax your neck and shoulders and focus on your breath. If you are someone who finds yourself in a constant state of tension, the breathing in yoga alone will be highly beneficial!
2. Stress Reduction
If you have kids, or a spouse, or a job, or a life of any kind, you have stress. It's an unavoidable and very necessary part of life! However, it is also important to have moments of de-stressing where we can let the demands of every day life take a back seat for a few moments. Taking an hour out of your day to do yoga (or any type of meditation) allows you to decompress and calm your mind. Some of the more challenging poses will force you to keep your focus solely on the task at hand, while some of the more calming poses will allow you to relax and release the tension of the day.
Let's face it, we sit too much and move too little, and this lifestyle causes us to become very tight and stiff. Then, anytime we're pressed for time in a workout, the first thing to go out the window is usually stretching. Or we only spend 5-10 minutes on stretching/mobility work which really isn't enough time to see any real, lasting change after spending hours and hours sitting at a desk!
While claims of creating "longer, leaner muscles" is a bit of false advertising on the part of many yoga practitioners, the stretching aspect of the classes will help to lengthen the muscle fibers that have been shortened due to our sedentary lifestyles. This won't actually cause your muscles to look longer or leaner, but it will allow you to move better and that should be reason enough to spend some time stretching!
If you can find an extra hour in your week - and let's be honest we could all cut out at least one of our netflix shows - give yoga a try! If you're in the Somerville/Medford area, we have some great options right in our community including, but not limited to: The Corner Studio, Be. Yoga, O2 Yoga, Bow Street Yoga, and many more!
Learn more about getting fit with the Unify Approach, a new, four-part fitness methodology.