Sick of walking the same streets of Brighton everyday like Karen from the news? Looking for a new way to feel fresh and rejuvenated, whilst also getting a good workout in? Well it might be time for you to give yoga a crack.
Yoga has been around for more than 5,000 (yogabasics.com), where it was originally used to create a greater spiritual awareness, and a higher consciousness in the individual. Nowadays, in the US alone, it is estimated that around 36 million Americans practice Yoga, that number increasing by 50% in the past four years (disturbment.co).
With this in mind, us at SportsPower Geelong understand the massive upside that physical activity can have both on the body and the mind, that’s why we put together a list of the benefits of yoga.
The most obvious benefit of course to practising yoga is the improvement in flexibility. As yoga consists of a lot of methodical stretching in both a careful and thorough manner, your capacity to stretch and bend is significantly enhanced. Further, this may cause those ‘niggling’ injuries to disappear, as yoga encourages deep stretching, as opposed to the ‘bum flicks’ and ‘high knees’ that a lot of sports consider to be a sufficient work out. It is not wonder why so many AFL and AFLW players are taking up yoga both during the season and the off season, as the improved flexibility not only helps you jump that little bit higher, but also reduces the strain on key muscles.
Additionally, according to the Yoga Journal, practising yoga can also perfect your posture. Living in a time where we spend a bulk of the day staring at a screen and trying to unmute ourselves on a Zoom call, posture is a key element to our health that is so often overlooked. As yoga works to correct your technique and its precise nature allows you to reap the maximum benefits out of the workout, this has a flow on effect to improving your posture. By flattening both the curve of your back and neck during yoga practice, your posture will reap the rewards, ultimately reducing the ‘lower bank pains’ that can ruin the careers of so many ‘coulda been’ athletes… me included.
It is important to mention that yoga also increases your blood flow. Whilst workouts get your blood flowing, whether its running or weightlifting, according to the Yoga Journal, the relaxation exercises in particular help the circulation of your blood, especially in your hands and feet. As more oxygen is getting to your cells, your muscles are better able to perform at their peak. Additionally, greater blood flow can lead to a decrease in the likelihood of heart attacks and strokes, as the level of clotting is reduced, and thus are the chances of these incidents (Yoga Journal).
Another key positive that derives from yoga is its effects on mental health. In a world where we are becoming more and more focused on mental positivity, yoga can help alleviate stress and anxiety. Most exercises have a similar effect on mental health, as the shift in focus can help ease the stress burdens of work or home life, however yoga in particular has a soothing effect on mental health and mindfulness. As increased focus on deep breathing is pivotal to ensuring the maximising of this benefit, as the controlled and consistent breath intervals helps relax and calm the mind. When ever someone is impersonating yoga, or doing so jokingly, there is always a buzzing ‘hummmmmm’ like sound that is added. However did you know that this is an actual technique used to reduce anxiety and help to control breathing?
FUN FACT: Bhramari Pranayama is a yoga technique known as ‘humming bee breathing’. In order to achieve complete mindfulness for this, the humming breathing is meant to be coupled with your index fingers in your ears, and a slight smile on your face according to Art Of Living. This type of yoga is great for clearing your head and easing your mind… however, humming with your eyes closed and your fingers in your ears… maybe try this one at home, and not at the gym or in your work tea room!
One key benefit to yoga is that it is easily accessible. As us in Victoria cannot hit up the gym as we would ‘pre Covid’, the need for an easily accessible workout at home is more important than ever. There is no wrong time to do your yoga workout, making it the perfect exercise to fit in either before the kids wake up, or during your much -needed lunch break. Further to this, there is no wrong place to chime your inner zen! Yoga can be done in the garage, in your room or even outside on a nice day… although Melbourne isn’t seeing too many of those at the moment. All that you need is your mat.
Another positive of yoga is that it is cheap and affordable. Unlike some physical activities whereby your spending hundreds of dollars just to buy the gear, and not even use it (*cough* cricket), for your yoga, all that is needed is a mat, some workout gear and a drink bottle. This means that any person can participate in yoga, regardless of whether you’re working full time, or a university student!
Finally, yoga is for everyone. Yoga doesn’t discriminate on age, weight, ability or height (luckily for me!). Yoga is a great exercise for kids, as it gives their minds a time away from the screen, as well as for elderly citizens, as it allows them to direct their focus towards their breathing and stretching.
So, if you’re considering pulling out the yoga mat, or just looking for some extra motivation, we hope that we have given you a push in the right direction. Before you do, however, make sure you have all the right gear to start smashing those isolation ambitions at SportsPower Geelong. And remember, to make sure you hmmmmmmmm.