Read these 9 Yoga for Fitness Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Yoga tips and hundreds of other topics.
In addition to the physical benefits, yoga promotes mental fitness by encouraging you to focus your mind and turn your attention inward. Part of the mental exercise of yoga is focusing on yourself and maintaining each posture as best you can without being distracted by what your neighbor on the next mat is doing, even if he or she is a foot away. The ability to focus is an important benefit of yoga that carries over into other athletic activities and activities of daily life by helping you stay calm and cope with stress. As you develop your physical balance, you will experience a deeper sense of mental balance, too.
Even classes that are more physical, such as Ashtanga or power yoga classes, will end with a short period of relaxation and meditation and even a few minutes of allowing your mind to be quiet will contribute to your sense of well-being at the end of a yoga class.
Yoga is an ideal exercise when you are recovering from an injury. Whether it's a mild sprain or a major surgery, yoga promotes healing by increasing circulation to the injured area as you move through poses. Be smart and avoid poses that irritate an injured area or that require movements that you can't handle until the injury is healed.
Be sure to tell your yoga instructor about any injuries before the class begins. He or she can show you how to modify poses to accommodate your injury using blocks, blankets, or other props. Or, the instructor may suggest alternative poses that can accommodate your injury.
Yoga is an excellent form of cross-training for any sport, from soccer to running to tennis. Why? Because you are working against your own body weight, you are not stressing your joints but you are still building strength.
Balancing poses such as tree pose (vrksasana) are excellent ways to build strength, and you will see progress if you practice them regularly. Balancing postures engage your core muscles and build core body strength. They also build strength in your legs and especially the quadriceps muscles, which support the knee.
Yoga continues to gain popularity among men, women, and children of all ages, but it is a particularly good fitness choice for older adults because it doesn't put the type of stress on the joints that running, tennis, walking, or other activities do, and it promotes flexibility. Yoga also may provide some relief for arthritis sufferers. But older adults who are new to yoga should proceed slowly and check with their doctors before starting a yoga practice.
Poses that are especially beneficial for older senior yogis include Downward-facing Dog pose and triangle pose. Inversions (being upside-down) are good for people of all ages to promote circulation. Older beginning yogis, and anyone else who doesn't feel comfortable doing handstands or headstands, can try Legs Up the Wall (viparita kirani), in which you lie flat on your back with your tailbone close to a wall and extend your legs up the wall to form an L-shape with your body and stay in place for 10-15 minutes.
That said, the low-impact nature of yoga means that it is not an activity that promotes bone building. It's important to include some moderate activity such as walking that promotes bone building to prevent osteoporosis as part of a fitness plan to reduce the risk of osteoporosis later in life.
Many sports, including running, biking, and swimming, keep you fit and healthy, but they have the side effect of making you less flexible in certain areas, and causing some muscles to become stronger than others, which creates an imbalance that can lead to injury.
Attending a yoga class or doing a yoga workout at home as little as once a week will improve your flexibility and work muscles that don't get used during other sports. This combination of improved flexibility and muscle balance will reduce your risk of injury, and improve your performance in other sports by building core body strength and by strengthening muscles that you might ignore.
For example, Ashtanga yoga improves shoulder strength, and while this may not sound like it matters to a distance runner, the shoulders get tight while running, and improving shoulder strength helps reduce fatigue during a long run. Also, runners tend to have tight hamstrings and hips from the repeated motion of running many miles, and yoga can counteract this imbalance. Conversely, serious cyclists tend to have overdeveloped quad muscles and shorter, weaker, hamstrings, and yoga can balance this imbalance, too.
If you're looking to shed a few pounds it may not seem like yoga and weight loss naturally go hand in hand. However, there are certain styles of yoga that can benefit your reduction diet. More active styles such as Power yoga and Ashtanga yoga are excellent choices because they increase your metabolic rate through more rapid, sustained movement. Bikram yoga is similar in that working in a heated environment will help you sweat out toxins. All forms of yoga incorporate a healthy eating doctrine, so there's no going wrong with any one style.
One of the most appealing aspects of yoga is its ability to be practiced by people of all ages. In other words, it's never too late to start studying. In particular, older practitioners find that there are amazing health benefits to yoga. From lowered blood pressure to regulating cholesterol levels, yoga helps the body live to its utmost and healthiest potential. In addition, yoga works wonders to alleviate depression, and even increases a general vitality that helps us live more active lives at any age.
In recent decades, people have become more and more invested in their physical health. Going to gyms, and becoming active in one way or another has become the norm. Fitness yoga is a perfect example of how people are incorporating spirituality and meditation in their daily workout. It combines mind and body in a pure way and yoga is a wonderful way to lose a little weight and gain peace of mind at the same time.
Power yoga is a derivation of Ashtanga yoga developed by Beryl Bender Birch, an Ashtanga instructor. Power yoga incorporates quicker-paced poses and vinyasa breathing (riding the breath) to move fluidly from one pose to the other. It is very invigorating, but can also be practiced by beginners. Power yoga also takes elements from Iyengar yoga making it a well-rounded western version of an Indian style.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|