In recent years, healthcare professionals of all stripes have embraced holistic and preventative methods toward reaching overall wellness, and more and more encourage patients from a variety of backgrounds to incorporate yoga into their weekly routines— so what exactly are the benefits of yoga?
Yoga is 5,000 year old form of exercise with over 100 different varieties or practices, all with some level of physical and spiritual focus. The most common type of yoga is Hatha, which flows between several types of poses or asanas. Others vary in intensity and impact, and include Bikram, or hot yoga; Power yoga, which is more vigorous and intense; and Iyengar, which uses props to modify movements with a focus on alignment.
Due to its flexible intensity level, yoga can benefit almost anyone, from the very fit to someone suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease. The variety of specific physical benefits include:
- Less Chronic Pain
- Increased Flexibility
- Increased Muscle Strength and Tone
- Bone and Joint Strengthening
- Weight Reduction and Management
- Increased Respiration
- More Energy, Longevity, and Vitality
- Balanced Metabolism
- Improved Athletic Performance
- Increased Muscle Recovery
- Protection from Injury
Is it cardio?
Adequate cardiovascular exercise trains the body use oxygen more efficiently with aerobic exercise which strengthens and trains the heart and lung muscles in order to more efficiently deliver the oxygen necessary to support healthy activity. Cardiovascular health benefits are a result of this conditioning of the heart and lungs to work faster and harder to increase the amount of oxygen being delivered to the body.
Not all yoga is created equal— slower, gentler yoga may not activate the heart and lungs deeply enough, whereas more vigorous yoga poses can elevate heart rate and increase breathing rate. If seeking cardio or aerobic results, try asanas such as salute to the sun, standing warrior, and others done briskly and without a break between poses. Use Biostrap to track your Heart Rate Variability and Resting Heart Rate to see if aerobic benefits have been achieved and adjust the intensity of your yoga routine accordingly.
The focus on the breath and meditative nature of yoga lead to boundless mental health benefits, primarily increased self-awareness, mindfulness, and relaxation, and decreased stress. Other important mental benefits include:
- Strengthens Mind-Body Connection
- Increases Deep Breathing
- Decreased Anxiety and Depression
- Better Body Image
- Sharpens Concentration and Focus
- Improves Sleep
Not sure if yoga is for you? Try incorporating it in your current fitness plan and use Biostrap’s metrics to take note of any unexpected physical or mental benefits. Yoga can help strengthen a well-rounded routine for anyone.