If you want to improve the health of both your mind and your body, few exercises are as effective as yoga.
Yoga has many benefits. Physically, yoga works to create a balance of mobility and stability in the body, so we are not holding tension in our bodies and can move with greater ease. In addition, yoga works to help us de-stress, by clearing our mind and training us to breath in a healthy manner.
Most of us have body stiffness that comes from either sitting all day, doing the same workout day after day, or both. Yoga helps fight stiffness and increase flexibility by stretching areas of your body that need to be stretched to provide required mobility.
In yoga, we move through poses that build strength and mobility in different areas of the body. Holding poses ensures that the balancing muscles have a chance to do their job.
Beyond the physical benefits, yoga can improve your mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and help you sleep.
We all have busy lives and hardly ever take time to shut down. When practicing yoga, we give ourselves time to be quiet and introspective. Calming the mind can help reduce stress and anxiety, make us feel better and also helps us to sleep better.
Yoga can range from gentle to intense; both are beneficial to the mind and body. The level of yoga you need will depend on the current status of your body. On any given day, you may need a rigorous practice or a gentle workout. There are so many different types of yoga, it can provide what you need, whether you need the yin or the yang. Yoga provides something for everyone.
Yoga is also effective for providing pain relief, including back and knee pain.
Unfortunately, back pain is prevalent in our society. Through balancing, core work and stretches, yoga clearly addresses both core weakness and stiffness, which account for much of the back pain we encounter as adults.
Most people want a quick fix, a magic pill. Yoga takes effort, but you’d be surprised at how quickly you can make a change. When athletes or people who are active are affected by back pain, it’s usually caused by overuse or a symmetry issue. It can be helped with the focused stretching and strengthening that are available through yoga.
Knee pain is often caused by all of the muscles around the knee. Yoga specifically targets the glutes and quads. Strengthening these muscles with yoga poses, like warrior one and warrior two, and being aware of our alignment can help keep the knees safe.
You don’t have to be a yogi to benefit from yoga. Beginners will find that yoga begins to create changes immediately. Like many people, you may find that you leave your first yoga class feeling better both physically and mentally than you did when you arrived.
The breathing (pranayama) and physical postures (asanas) used in yoga can begin to relieve stress and release muscular tension to some extent during a single class. Over time, changes to your posture and overall alignment will occur as you build more strength and mobility, and you will also have the tools to help keep your mind more calm and focused.
These bigger changes may take weeks or even longer. Yoga is a journey and we are making progress every time we set foot on our mat.
The Core Connection offers a large variety of yoga classes for all levels of experience. Yoga classes for beginners include: our 6 week Intro to Yoga class, and classes that focus on specific problems or body areas like our Gentle Yoga for Back Care class, and our core yoga principles class: Foundational Yoga. As you gain experience you can step up to some of our other yoga offerings like Power Vinyasa Flow Yoga.
Jennifer Driscoll, RYT, is an instructor at The Core Connection.