Even though yoga has been practiced for more than 5,000 years, the Western World is still learning all the healthful benefits yoga has to offer. As more and more information comes to light about how yoga can improve your health, more and more people are embracing their inner yogi.
Who practices yoga?
Today, the ancient practice has approximately 11 million participants in the United States alone. Yoga was traditionally practiced by mostly men and many of the poses and postures were originally geared toward the male form. However, yoga isn't gender specific and countless women are avid practitioners.
Proper Yoga Practice
While a major part of yoga is pushing your body to the limits of its flexibility, the mental connection is just as, if not more, important. While the svelte showoff in your class might disagree, it's actually recommended a person draw back from a particular pose or posture the moment they feel uncomfortable.
There are many varieties of yoga which specialize in working certain parts of the body or rely on certain meditation techniques. For example, there are certain varieties of yoga which solely revolve more around breathing as meditation while others teach you to stretch your body to its physical limits, but in a relaxing manner.
Benefits of Yoga
Regardless of what type of yoga you choose or your gender, you can be assured there are a great variety of benefits associated with practicing yoga regularly:
1. Tone your muscles and increase strength. While most would think getting into the pose would be a majority of the battle, the real test is holding the position for a set amount of time, which requires a decent amount of strength. Yoga involves the redistribution of your body weight into many different and unfamiliar poses which may prove difficult. This also means everyone has the same starting point, in terms of difficulty, and the same opportunity to build strength. However, as you become more familiar with the poses, your strength will increase and you'll notice improved muscle definition.
2. Improve your sex life. Yoga helps reduce anxiety, increase body awareness and even speed the release of hormones which can lead to arousal. All of this translates into a boost in libido, lubrication and ability to achieve orgasm.
3. Increase your breathing capacity. Breathing usually comes across as something we just kind of do and don't really think too much about. In yoga, breathing exercises known as Pranayama are used to help one focus on the task at hand instead of letting their mind wander. Pranayama also have physical benefits as they can help clear nasal passages and calm the central nervous system. Learning to control your breathing can also help you in other areas of exercise, like running.
4. Reduce stress in your life. Day-to-day aspects of life can leave a person stressed with their mind running a million miles a minute. Yoga forces you to set aside those aspects of your life for a set period of time and focus only on the practice. Between focusing on your breath and maintaining the pose, your mind is too occupied. Your troubles seem to melt away. If you're feeling stressed at your desk at work, you can draw on the breathing exercises you learned to calm yourself.
Tips for Success
Before beginning any exercise regimen, it's important to check with your doctor if you're being treated for a medical condition. Also be sure to stretch your body completely before the start of your class or practice at home. It will take your body time to adjust to the practice and performing exercises “cold” could lead to tears or strains. It's also recommended to learn yoga from a certified instructor as they can better show proper form and help prevent injury.
Remember to always recognize your limits, stay within them and don't compete with others -- that doesn't mean you won't exceed them with time and continued practice. Yoga is, at its very core, an individual practice.
Whether it's aromatherapy oils to enhance your meditation or bath salts for easing aching muscles, eVitamins has what you need for a successful workout.
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