Practicing Yoga Benefits Your Strength and Flexibility
Although yoga has proven more appealing to women in the modern era, it was originally developed by male priests in ancient northern India. They systematically developed yoga as a spiritual teaching to keep the negative ego in check through wisdom and action.
The stress and fast pace of 21st Century culture now has an increased number of men joining women in adopting yoga. Those who integrate yoga into their lifestyle enjoy a more positive outlook, as well as improved strength and flexibility.
What is Yoga?
The term “Yoga,” is an ancient Sanskrit word that loosely translates to “yoke” or “union.” It’s essentially the binding of seemingly different concepts into a single harmonious whole. In this case, yoga brings together the body, mind, and soul through meditative practices, stretching, and strength-building postures.
How Does Yoga Work?
The stretches, poses, and relaxed breathing of this 5,000-year-old practice has evolved into niche practices. Sub-disciplines of yoga may weigh different elements of the teachings or focus on meeting the needs of a group of practitioners. These are examples of how various types of yoga work.
- Vinyasa: This style is often referred to as “flow” because its poses run smoothly together in a fluid and consistent motion. This differs from others that focus on holding each pose and resting between movements.
- Yin: This style of yoga focuses on stretching and strengthening deep connective tissues, such as fascia, ligaments, joints, and bones. Usually conducted at a slow and meditative pace, the Yin experience allows participants to embrace mind and body sensations simultaneously.
- Hatha:Emphasizing postures and deep breathing techniques, Hatha involves moving slowly and deliberately from one pose to another. It encourages practitioners to gently challenge their strength and flexibility limits.
Of the approximately 300 million people who practice yoga worldwide, 34.4 million are Americans and 28 percent are male. Over the last 10 years, the number of people who practice yoga has increased by 64 percent due to the physical, spiritual, and emotional benefits it offers.
Benefits of Yoga for Women and Men
Although yoga began as a spiritual practice thousands of years ago, modern science has quantified its physical and mental health benefits. Researchers have determined that meditative states and a focus on breathing help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. In terms of strength and flexibility, the following benefits are well documented.
- Balance: Slow movements, coupled with steady breathing help warm up muscles and get the cardiovascular system flowing. Stances such as the Tree Pose encourage people to focus on strength and balance. The Tree Pose involves standing on one foot while holding your lower leg over the other knee.
- Strength: Lack of core strength typically results in lower back pain. The Cat-Cow Pose, for example, helps tone muscles by arching your spine from a prone position in conjunction with breathing exercises.
- Flexibility: Appropriate stretching remains a primary element in yoga. Studies indicate that practicing yoga over eight weeks improves flexibility by as much as 35 percent.
It’s interesting that yoga practitioners are primarily women, even though male priests founded the teachings. Those demographics appear to be rebalancing as more men are making health and wellness a greater part of their lifestyle.
If you are interested in improving your strength and flexibility while lowering stress, Moon River Wellness Center in Pelham, NH, offers a wide variety of yoga opportunities. Contact us today.
I like the vibe of the shop. It was very well put together. It’s definitely a thoughtful, curated welcoming space. The teacher, Nadia, was absolutely amazing. I’ll be back, and I highly recommend the studio. – David C.
I am a 58 yr old male that has been weight training for 43 years. In 2022 I noticed that both my strength and especially my recovery from workouts had decreased significantly. I also took up mountain biking which added another load, so I was looking for a way to improve my recovery and overall health in general.
My son has practiced yoga for several years and always encouraged me to give it a try. In early December I decided to stop in during an open house to check it out. The staff showed me around and discussed some options for getting me started. We spoke about some of my ongoing health problems and how yoga would help improve some of these issues. I signed up that day and can honestly say it was a life changing day for me.
Since then, I have been practicing consistently two times a week and have quickly seen major improvements to my health in many ways. I can say that after the classes are finished, I feel both euphoric and completely relaxed. Some of the benefits that I am seeing are listed below.
1. Increased flexibility and improved strength.
2. Improved overall sense of well-being and mindfulness.
3. Reduced stress and the ability to handle the stress in a more productive manner.
4. Improved breathing control and lung function.
5. Improved recovery from my weight training sessions.
6. Weight loss of 7 pounds in around 6 weeks since practicing.
7. Improved sleep patterns and energy levels.
The entire staff at Moon River are very friendly and supportive.I would highly encourage anyone to stop by and check it out. – Randy F.