Yoga is one of the most popular, best-loved workouts in the world. People of almost every nationality and religion do yoga on a regular basis, and it can help you reach a variety of fitness and weight loss goals. Yoga is all about balancing your mind, body, and spirit, which it does with stretching exercises, breathing exercises, and mediation.
There are several different types of yoga, so there is a choice of styles for you to try. They are all similar, but different enough that, if you don’t like one type, you should like another.
All you need for yoga is a good yoga mat. In my article My favorite yoga mats, I explain how to choose a good one, and which one I use for my yoga practices.
So, why is yoga so good for you? That’s a good question. Allow me to provide you with not one, not two, but FIVE reasons why yoga is so great!
1) Better flexibility
Age and too much sitting can soon lead to short, tight muscles. Short, tight muscles can cause aches and pains. Look at how young children move – very fluidly and easily. Now, look at how most adults move; it’s like their joints have rusted up! Yoga involves a lot of stretching, and they can restore lost flexibility. The more flexible you are, the more youthful you will feel. Yoga can help relieve a lot of knee, hip, back, and shoulder pain. Less pain? Sign me up!
2) Stronger core
A lot of back problems are caused by weak core muscles. Core is the collective term for the muscles of your midsection, including your abs and lower back. Yoga, like Pilates, will strengthen your core, providing your spine with more support. This can help prevent back pain, reduce your risk of back injury, and help make any current back problems go away. I talk about this interesting subject I my article Weak muscles lead to back pain.
A stronger core will also give you that flat, lean stomach you always wanted. Combined with a healthy diet, yoga is a good way to develop the slim, strong body you always wanted, but without having to lift weights.
3) Suitable for beginners
A lot of popular workouts are not suitable for beginners. Exercising too hard or too soon can lead to injury, sore muscles, and disillusionment, none of which encourages you to develop the exercise habit.
Yoga is different. All of the poses, called asana, can be modified for beginners, and some poses are especially suitable for people who are new to this type of workout. Take a look at Yoga poses for beginners for more information about easy-to-learn asana you can do at home.
4) Reducing stress
Stress is arguably the leading cause of disease. When you are stressed, everything from your hormones to your blood glucose levels to your food choices gets disrupted. Smoking, drinking alcohol, and eating unhealthily are all associated with stress. It’s no wonder so many people are ill or have to miss work because of stress.
Yoga is a very good way to reduce stress. Unlike a lot of exercise methods, yoga focuses on breathing and relaxation, leaving you feeling much less tense, and better able to deal with the demands of your daily life.
By lowering your stress levels, yoga enhances almost every aspect of your life – not just physically but mentally and even spiritually too. That’s why I’m such a big fan of yoga; it’s not just for your body, but for your mind too.
5) You can do yoga anywhere
Once you have mastered the basics, you can do yoga almost anywhere. In your bedroom or lounge, at the beach, in a park, or anywhere else you can find enough space to unroll your yoga mat. This makes it the perfect workout for people who travel, or who prefer to exercise at home. There are books you can buy or DVDs to follow that will teach you yoga asana, and you can find yoga classes in almost every town and city in the world. This makes yoga the perfect, excuse-free workout.
If you have never tried yoga, you are missing a treat! It’s relaxing but challenging, fun and fulfilling. If you want to learn more, make sure you check out my Yoga guide for beginners.