Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Health Benefits of Yoga

In addition to focusing more on my strength training this month, I have also been taking some yoga classes.  I got a great Groupon, and have enjoyed all $20 worth!  I tend to be a more worry, anxiety, perfectionist-prone person, so yoga is exactly what I am not drawn towards, but need the most.  I typically like heart-pounding, can't breathe kind of workouts, but this might not be the healthiest thing for those of us with this kind of personality.  The goal is to have a stress reliever, not create extra stress on the body.  Here is what I have read in my research about yoga:

Increased muscular strength and flexibility.  It even seems to improve arthritis and chronic pain.

Stronger heart.  Yoga is known to lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate.  Some studies point towards an anti-oxidant effect of yoga.

Reduced stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain.  Yoga teaches you how to quiet the mind and focus on deep breathing techniques.  It also appears to lower the chronic stress hormones like norepinephrine and cortisol.  Several studies are in place to study the effects on depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Better sleep.  Yoga as a treatment for insomnia is currently being studied.

Enhanced overall since of well being and quality of life.  Probably due to all of the above, yoga students are happier after taking class.

Try it out a few times and see what you think.  I plan to try a few yoga classes from YouTube.  I have found that you can just search for your level, and there are lots of full length classes.  I think this is a great thing to do in between strength training or heavy exercise days.

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