By Keira Benson
So, why should I do yoga? I don’t have time to fit any more into my busy life.
1. Yoga works in a holistic way, that is, it addresses the whole body, improving the entire structure.
By working with physical movements known as postures or ‘asana’, we can improve the range of movement within our joints, increasing both suppleness and strength. Tight muscles can restrict our movements and cause structural strain; tightness in the hips can put pressure on the knees and the restriction of short hamstrings can put the lower back at risk.
Strong muscles help to support and bring stability to our joints, especially the spine, which is a common site of strain.
Yoga postures take the spine through its full range of movements in a precise, controlled way, which can be extremely beneficial in releasing postural back pain.
Taking joints through their full range of movement keeps them healthy and can even help to prevent against degenerative arthritis.
2. Our breathing capacity can be increased through yoga.
It focuses on the breath by encouraging a relaxed ‘steady’ breathing during the physical postures and, in particular, during relaxation at the end of the class.
Dedicated breathing exercises can also be taught during the class. All of these techniques help to improve lung function and reduce stress.
3. Yoga can also bring us a sense of calm and relaxation.
It can help to minimise stress by shifting the emphasis from the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the ‘fight or flight’ response, to the parasympathetic nervous system, which brings the body back into balance.
By staying focused on our breath and our physical movements, we can also switch off from the constant fluctuations of the mind.
This is why yoga is a holistic practice; bringing together enhanced physical well-being and improved breathing with a quiet, restful mind.
There are many different forms of yoga available, some of the most common being:
Hatha – The practice of mental and physical cleansing through postures (asana) and breathing (pranayama).
Ashtanga – The exploration of postures, breath control and concentration.
Sivananda – A flowing style, which includes breath control, meditation, postures, chanting and relaxation.
Yin – A practice that combines traditional Hatha postures with Taoist philosophy and Meridian Theory. It works with the feminine energy of the body and affects the deep layers of connective tissue, utilising long passive holds.
All forms of yoga come from the same root and are, therefore, relatively interchangeable, so an hour-long class once or twice a week in any of the disciplines will quickly start to work wonders on both your physical and mental well being.
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Keira Benson found yoga last year after a two-year battle with a shoulder injury and has seen huge improvements since she began regular classes.
For more information about yoga in Southend-on-Sea, visit: https://www.shambhalastudios.com
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