People who’ve never done yoga before often think you have to be flexible to do it, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. When you look at those pictures of a person on the beach striking a beautiful pose, it’s like watching a Federer play tennis and saying I could never do that, so I won’t bother at all.
Nobody starts off that good! Though over time you will become more flexible, and as soon as you actually do some of the exercises, you’ll find there’s some flexibility already there.
If you’ve been holding back for whatever reason, perhaps it’s time to rethink your decision. Yoga might improve your health and wellbeing. It might help you find a balance between body and mind, and you can start at any age.
More power to your body
If you’re not keen on lifting weights, Yoga is an excellent way of strengthening your muscles instead. And as you get older, muscle strength becomes ever more important in keeping you mobile, fit & healthy. The standing movements in Yoga will strengthen your hamstrings, quadriceps and abdominals, sitting practices will strengthen your spine, and while you’re reclining, it’s great for your abs and your back muscles.
Improve your posture
When your flexibility and strength increase, you automatically improve your posture too.
Yoga works particularly well for your abdominal and back muscles – the two muscle groups that determine how you carry yourself through life.
By strengthening these muscles, you stand, and sit more upright, and the very practice of Yoga helps you become more aware of your posture, so you can adjust it yourself. In fact it’s also been shown that the way you walk can affect your mood, the more aware you are of all this, the better it is for you.
Increase your quality of breath
Because Yoga involves a range of breathing exercises, it actually increases your lung capacity, leading to an improvement in your overall performance and endurance. Some breathing exercises can increase your Sympathetic Nervous System’s activity too. Please check with a trained yoga therapist, or health care professional before using certain forms of Yoga breathing, to ensure it’s safe for you to do so.
Reduce your stress levels
Many people say they feel calmer, and less tense after a yoga session, and there are indications that biochemical reactions occur in your body, leading to less stress hormones production. The hormone ‘oxytocin’ is also thought to be stimulated by yoga – also known as ‘the hugging hormone’, which is associated with peace and a feeling of belonging.
Better focus and lift your mood
It is a little hard to prove beyond all reasonable doubt, though many Yoga practitioners say they can focus better, and that their mood has lifted after a session. Research is being conducted into whether Yoga has a positive effect on depression, which could be linked to the oxygen boost received by the brain. From my perspective, at least, I’ll be surprised if a link is not borne out by the data.
Alleviate certain conditions & complaints
Yoga lowers your blood pressure, if you have heart complaints or suffer from high blood pressure, then you should think about it. Yoga can also relieve asthma, back pain and arthritis symptoms, so you have any of those too, what are you waiting for?!
Overall, yoga might help you to connect with you, and help connect your body & mind. And the end result of that is greater self-care for yourself, and greater connection with others too.
In service and best of luck with your practice.
Esther, The School of Self-Care | Inspire your Mind