Check out an article from our Client Account Manager, Natalie Ward, on Yoga for Physical & Mental Wellbeing – original post on LinkedIn.
Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that originated in India thousands of years ago, it is a practice that focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to boost physical and mental wellbeing. The main components of yoga are asanas (postures).
The effects of yoga have been widely studied across various populations and demographics, and all support the health benefits of regular yoga participation.
When thinking about flexibility we think about the obvious of being able to touch our toes for example, which Yoga can certainly help you to achieve (Amin, 2014), and can aid in reducing the likelihood of injuries by increasing the range of motion around the joints.
However, what may not spring to mind is the flexibility of muscles that support our major organs, such as the muscles involved in our respiratory system. Studies on various age groups have shown a significant improvement in respiratory muscle strength and endurance following a 6 – 24-week yoga programme (Madanmohan et al. 2008, Reddy 2010, Bezerra et al. 2014).
Yoga is made up of various asanas, many of which involve supporting part or all your body weight and holding the position on average for up to 60 seconds which leads to an increase in strength. Studies have supported this by reporting an increase in strength for both male and female participants of a 6 – 24-week yoga programme (Bhutkar et. al 2011, Madanmohan et al. 2008, Patel, Newstead & Ferrer 2012).
In addition to the physical benefits of yoga, when done correctly without distractions the exercise promotes healthy mental wellbeing, the aim is to clear your mind and focus on breathing which participants of yoga will fully appreciate as some asanas can be difficult to accomplish and hold for the time specified and requires controlled breathing and concentration. Studies have been conducted across various populations including pregnant women, children & adolescents, office-based employees and elderly adults, and have concluded a significant reduction in perceived stress and an improvement in response to stress for the yoga participants in comparison with control groups (Satyapriya et. al 2009, Klatt, Buckworth & Malarkey, 2008, Thomley et. al 2011, Li & Goldsmith, 2012, Javnbakht, HejaziKenari & Ghasemi, 2009, Chong et. al 2011).
Yoga is that it is available to everyone, all ages and all demographics. You do not need specialist gym equipment to participate, all you really need is a yoga/gym mat. As a beginner I would recommend taking a few classes to ensure you are getting guidance on your postures, but once you have built up a base knowledge you are free to practice where you are most comfortable whether that is in a gym class or at home. Yoga is accessible to everyone with the ever changing world of technology, and you can find many apps with set and adaptable yoga sessions, just pick how long you want your session to last and off you go.
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D. Amin, The effects of selected asanas in Iyengar yoga on flexibility: Pilot study. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 2014; 18 (3) 399 – 404
Madanmohan, S.K. Mahadevan, S. Balakrishnan, M. Gopalakrishnan & E.S. Prakash, Effect of Six Weeks Yoga Training on Weight Loss Following Step Test, Respiratory Pressures, Handgrip Strength and Handgrip Endurance in Young Healthy Subjects. Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 2008; 52 (2) 164 – 170
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