Yoga is generally not considered a fat-burning, blood-pumping, calorie-destroying workout, but it can help you lose weight by enhancing the quality of just about any other physical activity you participate in. The following are some reasons why, and a few tips on getting started.
How Yoga Can Augment Your Current Exercise Regimen:
- Improve Muscle Strength and Tone: Even though they might not get your heart racing, many yoga poses are challenging, and force you to use muscles in different ways than you’re normally used to. For example some positions require you to stand on one leg or support the majority of your weight with your arms. The slow movement into such poses, and the subsequent holding of them, improves both the strength and tone of your muscles.
- Improve Flexibility: Yoga places a great emphasis on movements that lengthen and stretch your muscles. By extending the range of movement of your joints, tendons, and muscles, you improve your overall flexibility and help lessen the risk of injury during other workout routines.
- Improve Posture and Balance: Whether sitting at the computer or partaking in a grueling workout, good posture and balance are often not the first things on our minds. Yet, with yoga, these two elements are put into tight focus and practiced. Over time you’ll notice that you’re sitting straighter, standing taller, and moving with a greater awareness of your body. This will translate into your workouts by improving the quality of your movements, especially during routines that focus on specific muscle groups.
- Helps Prevent Injury: For all the reasons listed above, yoga can be a great help in preventing injuries caused not only from more strenuous workouts, but also activities of daily life like carrying groceries, chasing after your kids, moving that couch to vacuum, or dashing up the steps to answer the phone.
- Better Breathing: Breathing exercises are another essential element of yoga, and like posture and balance, it’s something we often don’t give much thought to. Yet during other work outs, breathing is just as essential but not emphasized. Deliberately training yourself to breath more effectively can help improve your stamina during these activities. Also, yoga offers a variety of techniques that can be applied to real-life, for example clearing nasal passages and stress reduction.
- Reducing Stress: Yoga is as much mental as it is physical. Focusing all of your attention on your movements, breathing, balance, and posture, helps clear everything else from your mind. This is a great way to remove yourself from life’s stresses and truly take a time out. Having an effective method of handling stress and rebooting your mind is essential, not only for handling the pressures of life, but also to help you sleep better and enjoy a greater sense of well-being. Stress, lack of sleep, and depression can all sabotage even the most stringent weight loss plan, so consider yoga as an activity to not only augment your workout routine, but also to enhance the overall quality of your life.
Considering Trying Yoga? Here’s Some Info:
- As always, check with your physician before trying a new exercise regimen, particularly if you suffer back problems or have a limiting physical condition.
- You can have more than a mat for doing yoga. There are a multitude of props available to use for positions that may be difficult for you, and most classes make use of them.
- Do some research. There are several different types of yoga classes to choose from, including ones with varying spiritual basis, some for parents, others for different age groups or those with certain physical conditions (like back pain or arthritis), and there are even classes you can take with your dog.
So look around and find something that you will have fun with.
- If you’d like to try yoga at home, here are a couple links to get you started: yoga poses in pictures or watch the movie on hot yoga
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