Why You Should Be Doing Yoga
Yoga is for everyone. Really, everyone! Regardless of ability levels, activity preferences and body types, yoga can be adapted and modified to make it an experience anyone will enjoy—tight yoga pants not required! Here's how yoga benefits different types of people.
The most common injuries that athletes experience tend to be as a result of lack of flexibility, or simply overdoing it. Because yoga helps create more self awareness of the breath and body, instead brushing off discomfort with "no pain, no gain," athletes learn to be more focused on the feelings they are experiencing and the strain or discomfort they may feel. Plus, between the improved focus and amazing balance that is achieved through yoga, athletes can improve their coordination. Flexibility will improve performance through more enhanced mobility and reduced tension in the joints.
Runners require a lot of leg strength and speed. While many might be reluctant to try yoga, they are generally pleasantly surprised to find that their skeletal balance, flexibility and general performance is significantly improved. Much like general athletes, runners benefit from increased flexibility in the muscles attached to key joints, decreasing aches and pains from consistent impact. Furthermore, runners will find that the strength of the feet and ankles is significantly increased because of the slow balancing postures. From stability and mobility, runners will find that they are energized, stretched and strengthened from regular yoga practice.
The Busy Parent
Those parents who have the time to slip away from their littles and attend a full yoga class are sure to be less stressed, more relaxed and in better shape. However, it doesn't take an hour to enjoy a yoga session. Busy parents who are unable to attend a full yoga class can just as easily enjoy a short five, 10 or 20 minute session at home. Hopefully, they can practice without screaming children, but with or without the little ones running around, yoga can be achieved by memorizing a few basic sequences, having a trained teacher assist you with posture (if possible) and finding the pace, rhythm and breath that suits you. Even short sessions can improve muscle toning, decrease stress and induce energy and relaxation. COMING SOON: Try the online yoga class videos for a good cause at Karma Class by So Fresh Yoga.
The Little Ones
Yoga is becoming more and more common among children and the results are amazing. Research on children’s yoga and mindfulness suggests that these programs have a number of positive effects on children’s health, behaviour, and performance. It helps kids to become more relaxed, bringing them towards mind/body self-awareness, potentially improving self esteem. Kids often find that the result of the movement, breath and focus is a reduction in frustration, increase in energy and attention.
Yoga is easily modified for all levels of physical activity. Even those who are not mobile can enjoy small movements, seated yoga or simply pranayama breathing and meditation techniques. By gradually introducing more challenging postures, elderly individuals can alleviate pain, improve flexibility and balance. Arthritis and joint pain, respiratory function, bone density, blood sugar and blood pressure can all be improved with regular yoga practice. These benefits mean that seniors are less likely to fall or to injure themselves.
The Injury Sufferer
You might think that after a terribly broken collarbone, a plate and seven screws and a broken back over the span of two years that I would have never been able to excel in yoga. Fortunately, the reality is exactly the opposite. Using yoga as a form of physiotherapy and conditioning, I was able to regain the flexibility and strength I previously had and live completely pain free. By working with qualified yoga instructors and being realistic about your progress and daily commitment, yoga as a form of therapy can be amazingly beneficial to individuals facing nearly any injury.
The Pregnant Mama
Yoga is energizing, opening and inspiring. During pregnancy, yoga can help to re-focus the mind, improve morning sickness, reduce anxiety, energize and help deal with physical changes. While there are some clear restrictions regarding particular movements, pregnant women can enjoy yoga throughout their pregnancy. With the assistance of a qualified yoga teacher, each trimester will involve a different approach to yoga. The first focuses on nourishing and creating an optimal environment for the baby. The second trimester is about alleviating discomfort, gently stretching the pelvis and hips and relaxing strained muscles. The third trimester is all about achieving more comfort, acknowledging restricted mobility and encouraging breath over postures.
Some people just don’t enjoy high impact, intense activities or dislike holding particular postures for too long. We are all different and while personal preferences will certainly impact the types of exercises you choose, there are so many different types of yoga that there is bound to be one that works for you. Restorative yoga is an opening, breath focused practice that involves holding a single, usually reclined posture for anywhere from 4-10 minutes. I often joke that this is “nap yoga” and while some people find it way too slow, others live for this type of class.