How many times have you been told yoga is good for you? Countless I’m sure.
Really though, the benefits of yoga shouldn’t be underestimated. It is a safe and effective way to increase physical activity, especially strength, flexibility and balance.
So why don’t people want to do it (or even try it).
Yoga is for women!
Ok. I can see what you mean. When I think of yoga I think of the likes of Reese Witherspoon and Eva Longoria clad in their yoga pants and armed with their yoga mats. It’s natural to have those images. But what I doubt you have ever thought of is major sportspeople doing yoga as part of their training like the New Zealand All Blacks, who play in arguably the most manly (I say this only for the connotations of the word). And might I add that when Shaquille O’Neal retired from the NBA he took up yoga to keep himself in shape.
Yoga doesn’t build muscle, it just tones.
You can build muscle with yoga, but maybe not at the same rate as you would with weight training. With each yoga pose you are carrying your own body weight, so there is weight involved. The benefit to yoga however is that you build your muscular endurance as each pose is held for a long period of time. It also helps you activate muscles that may otherwise be forgotten, this is important because these muscles help to stabilise you.
Yoga isn’t challenging enough/Yoga is too hard.
It may surprise some but like learning to ride a bike, yoga will be challenging at first, as is learning any new skill. Whether its syncing your breath to your movements or getting your forehead to the floor in Child’s Pose, it won’t all come naturally. Once you master these skills, there are always new ways to challenge yourself by trying harder variations of each pose, allowing yourself into a deeper stretch or holding the pose much longer than you are used to.
If the pace is too slow for you, why not try Vinyasa yoga where you repeat a series of poses at a faster pace with the intention to raise body heat and increase muscle strength.
Yoga is super expensive.
Time to debunk this theory. Yoga is much more accessible than you think. In Leeds, classes are around £6-£9 a session with many offering member rates. The Yoga Space currently offer a trial of 5 classes for £20 which would give you a chance to try yoga practices and find which suits you best. Other places in Leeds that provide yoga are Yoga Kula (Chapel Allerton), Yoga Hero (Leeds Dock) and not forgetting that your gym/leisure centre may offer yoga classes as part of their weekly timetable.
Another way to do yoga inexpensively is online. There are many YouTube accounts such as Yoga With Adriene, Yoga With Kassandra, and Yoga With Tim. Each of these accounts have several videos that take you through different practices, you can pick and choose what suits you best based on how much time you have or how your feeling. The great thing about using YouTube for yoga is that you can do it from the comfort of you own home at a time that suits you and it’s inexpensive. You can grab a yoga mat online or at your local sports retailer for less than a tenner, throw on something comfy and get going. The only negative to doing home yoga would be that you don’t have teacher in the room with you to make corrections but as you get more familiar wit the moves and the practices, you may be able to feel what is right and what isn’t.
Another place to get your yoga fix is the NHS Fitness Studio which has videos for not only yoga, but pilates, and other core workouts.
Health Benefits of Yoga
Regular yoga practice has been shown to be beneficial for people with high blood pressure, heart disease, aches and pains. It not only helps with these physical ailments but has been shown to lower stress and depression in some individuals.
Due to it’s role in increasing strength balance and coordination it can decrease the risk of falls in older people.
Yoga and mindfulness based exercise has been proven to be an effective intervention for a number of common conditions that are present in residents living with dementia such as: anxiety, depression, co-ordination and balance problems (McCall, 2007).