By Thomas Cazneau
When I first learned about Yoga, I was a bit skeptical. As an aspiring actor, many of the acting classes that I’ve taken have included Yoga exercises, some of them not complete without animal names. For the most part, I couldn’t understand the point of using animal-like charades as a warm-up.
Well, recently I found out that Yoga can actually offer several health and wellness benefits. Below are some of those benefits that I personally found to be more motivating to do Yoga on a more regular basis.
Improved flexibility is one of the first and most basic benefits of yoga. During your first Yoga session, you probably won’t be able to touch your toes or even remotely do a backbend. But if you become consistent in practicing Yoga, you’ll notice your body gradual loosening. Seemingly impossible poses will start to become possible. You’ll also begin to notice that particular aches and pains start to disappear. That’s no coincidence. Tight hips can strain the knee joint due to improper alignment of the thigh and shinbones. Tight hamstrings can lead to a flattening of the lumbar spine, which can cause back pain. And inflexibility in muscles and connective tissue, such as fascia and ligaments, can cause poor posture. Yoga exercises can remove the tightness in your hips and hamstrings and promote flexibility in your muscles so that they stay healthy, pain-free and functional.
Strong muscles protect us from conditions like arthritis and back pain, and help prevent dangerous falls in elderly people. While gym workouts and weight lifting can make you stronger, Yoga couples strength building with flexibility. This gives your body a more balanced strength as compared to an imbalanced hit-and-miss gym workout.
Incorrect posture could cause back and neck problems. If you are slouching or perhaps leaning too far forward, this could cause unnecessary strain to your muscles and even lead to degenerative arthritis of the spine. This is due to the fact that your body is subconsciously doing all it can to keep your head up and supported. Yoga promotes health and wellness through good posture. When you are standing straight and balanced directly over an erect spine, it takes much less work for your neck and back muscles to support your head.
Joint cartilage is like a sponge; it receives fresh nutrients only when its fluid is squeezed out and a new supply can be soaked up. Each time you practice yoga, you take your joints through their full range of motion, and your joint cartilage has a great chance to receive the fresh nutrients it needs to operate properly. This can help prevent degenerative arthritis or mitigate disability.
These are only some of the several health benefits of Yoga. I encourage you to research more about others and to speak with your doctor about any wellness services that your health insurance or carrier may provide or cover. Kaiser Permanente, in particular, offers Yoga classes to both members and non-members.
We would love to hear about how Yoga or another relaxing form of exercise has helped you! Let us know your experience or tips in a Comment below.