To go along with any exercise program, having an in-depth stretching routine is so important. Whether you are hitting the weights at your local gym, or enjoy the occasional jog, working in stretches to combat tightening muscles, and to correct imbalances in strength promotes longevity and the optimal function one’s body. Often for many, simply stretching can be boring and even ineffective. If you are someone who’s struggled to adhere to a stretching routine in the past, yoga might be right for you. The benefits of yoga are vast. As a personal trainer, its something that I practice myself, and something I push my clients to practice as well.
Performing Yoga has many physical benefits, as well as mental and spiritual.
The Physical Benefits-
-Building flexibility and mobility– The term flexibility refers to the overall range of motion a particular muscle or joint has, while mobility is used to express how well one, or a system of joints function through a movement pattern. Yoga works on both flexibility and mobility through practicing movement patterns while in a deep stretch, something that an average stretching routine often lacks.
-Perfects posture and protects your spine– Yoga is a great way to build core strength while achieving musculature balance. It is important to have a strong core to be able to keep your lumbar spine in a neutral position in everyday movements. Say, picking something off the floor. Being able to properly move (hinge at your hips) while keeping your back straight can save your lumbar spine from a lot of wear and tear. Having an even balance of strength and flexibility between your anterior and posterior chain helps keep your body in proper alignment.
-Yoga improves cardiovascular health– Yoga has been proven to lower your heart rate, cholesterol, blood pressure and other risk factors leading to cardiovascular heart disease. Practicing relaxation/breathing techniques while in different postures can help improve blood flow and circulation of oxygen throughout the body.
Yoga can be as mentally beneficial as it is physically. Yoga is a form of meditation that improves your psychological and mental well being. By balancing and calming your nervous system yoga helps relieve stress and sharpens concentration, something that a mere stretching routine does not offer.
My Experience With Yoga
Yoga has been very beneficial in my own life. I started working out at the age of 14. Like many people, I hit the ground running with not much knowledge of what I was doing, and because I lacked a proper stretching routine to go along with the time I was spending in the gym. It wasn’t long till muscles got tight, and imbalances in strength formed causing injuries. I had shoulder issues, back pain, and knee pain while running. Around the age of 20, I worked to correct these injuries through static stretching and different myofascial release techniques. I saw improvement, but I struggled to stay diligent, and the aches and pains often returned quickly. It was hard to stay consistent. Stretching to me was boring and yoga brought life to it in a way that I hadn’t experienced. Not only has it been more effective than static stretching on my own, it has been more engaging, emotionally rewarding, and has introduced me to like-minded people in the community that I otherwise would not have met. It’s improved both my physical and mental state. It honestly makes me want to be a better person. I’m still not half as flexible as the average yogi, I was born an inflexible person, but working on something that I’m not particularly good at is humbling.
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