Group class doing yoga at their local YMCA
Source: YMCA

Why yoga? This question may be one that many ask themselves when thinking about exercise routines and looking at what types of exercise they should be doing. It seems these days it gets its own category situated right after cardio and weight lifting. Health and fitness professionals encourage yoga as part of a regular fitness routine for several reasons, here are 7 benefits you can get from Yoga.

1.Improves flexibility

Yoga is a combination of stretches and low impact movement that over time will help you become more limber and flexible. If you aren’t in the habit of stretching on a regular basis, some of the moves will seem impossible, but over time you should be able to loosen up and enjoy easier movement in general.

2.Builds muscle strength

Many yoga moves help you build muscle and core strength through holds and repetitions. If you were simply to do muscle training through lifting weights, you often sacrifice flexibility, but yoga balances the two rather than putting them on separate ends of the spectrum.

3.Perfects posture and protects your spine

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 and ultimately damaging your spine and opening your body to make aches and pains. With yoga, you learn and become aware of your posture, slowly allowing you to correct it and protect your spine.

4.Prevents cartilage, bone, and joint breakdown

Unlike high-impact activity and other cardio exercising, each time you exercise with yoga, you take your joints through their full range of motion. Repetitive movements in a single motion or direction causes damage over time, but yoga gives you the proper exercise without stressing your body. Further, the weight-bearing exercise that yoga entails is documented to strengthen bones and ward off osteoporosis. Many postures require you to lift your own weight, while others like Downward- and Upward-Facing Dog, help strengthen the arms leading to less stress on your body overall.

5.Boosts heart rate

While quite a bit of yoga is seen as a slow-moving exercise, there are many forms that also help you to boost your heart rate for better heart and body health. Flow or Hot Yoga, or even doing yoga at a faster pace can boost your heart rate in that aerobic range that lowers risk of heart attack and relieves depression. On the other hand, doing regular yoga often improves cardiovascular conditioning as it teaches you how to breathe while exercising, allowing you to do more over a longer period of time.

6.Lowers blood pressure and blood sugar

With less stress on your body and more general health benefits, yoga also helps in reducing blood pressure and blood sugar while lowering bad and increasing good cholesterol. A British Medical Journal called The Lancet found that those doing yoga after a three-month period on average saw a 26 point drop in the top number and a 15 point drop in the bottom number when measuring blood pressure.

For those with diabetes, others also found that yoga lowers blood sugar in several ways: by lowering cortisol and adrenaline levels, encouraging weight loss, and improving sensitivity to the effects of insulin.

7.Eases pain

All of the previous benefits also help to ease your pain. With less stress on the body, more strength, more flexibility, and better health, your body is less likely to feel the same amounts of pain. Some studies found reduced pain in people with arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other chronic conditions.

By practicing yoga, you can experience even more benefits than those listed above, it’s no wonder that yoga has become and stayed popular over the years.

Locally, you can find a variety of yoga classes the Brentwood Franklin and Maryland Farms YMCA locations. For more information on the types of yoga classes the YMCA offers and class times, click here.

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