Ready to increase you’re flexibility and boost your immune system? These are just some of the health benefits of hatha yoga.
About a year after my first experience with yoga my body crashed and went through many struggles. Anxiety and sleeplessness were two of those struggles. It had been awhile since I had done yoga but I came across a video that was called “yoga for stress relief and flexibility”. This was one of the best investments I made. Not only did I learn poses to help relieve tension and relax but I also learned that certain poses help support, cleanse, tone and restore the organs. I continued to do this video, along with a few other faves I found at the library, and as my body began to get stronger I began to do more challenging videos and classes at the gym. I loved the way yoga made me feel so much I continued to do it through my second pregnancy and while I was 8 months pregnant I took a yoga instructor training course. I am still a newbie to yoga but am excited to share some of its many benefits.
7 Health Benefits of Hatha Yoga
1. Builds immunity – When you contract and stretch muscles, move organs around, and come in and out of yoga postures, you increase the drainage of lymph. This helps the lymphatic system fight infection, destroy cancerous cells, and dispose of the toxic waste products of cellular functioning
2. Relaxes the mind and releases tension in the body – Yoga really encourages you to focus on your breath, which relaxes the mind. Whether you are trying to find ease in a difficult pose or you are practicing yin yoga, the breath will help you calm the mind and release tension in the body.
3. Tones the spine – All of our nerves branch out from the spine, connecting the various organ systems to the brain. It is said that if the spine is rigid, nerve impulses cannot flow freely through the body and internal organs become weakened and subject to disease. If you keep the spine supple, the nerves remain strong and your health is maintained.
4. Strengthens and tones the body – Yoga poses are weight bearing, are held for varying lengths of time, and are repeated multiple times during a practice. It is a great option for functional fitness since it allows your body to be both strengthened and stretched in positions that your body is naturally in on a day-to-day basis.
5. Increases flexibility – There are two major schools of scientific thought on what actually most limits flexibility and what should be done to improve it. The first school focuses not on stretching muscle fiber itself but on increasing the elasticity of connective tissues, the cells that bind muscle fibers together, encapsulate them, and network them with other organs; the second addresses the “stretch reflex” and other functions of the autonomic (involuntary) nervous system. Yoga works on both. That’s why it’s such an effective method for increasing flexibility.
6. Helps with cravings – This is a big one for me! When my body is off balance I have all sorts of cravings (who doesn’t??) Yoga is great for balancing our systems and helping to curb all sorts of wacky things such as oversleeping, overeating, the desire to drink or smoke, eat sugar and more!
7. Good Health – I came across this list of “symptoms” of good health and thought it would be fun to share. It is said the practice of yoga will help us achieve these “symptoms”: Real hunger, good digestion, sound sleep, perfect functioning of the various organs of the body, proper pulsation, timely elimination of wastes, interest in doing one’s duties, and happiness of mind.
Currently my favorite place to work out is at home. I have a family and it’s just not convenient for me to get out and take an hour yoga class somewhere. I do believe it is beneficial to take a class where an instructor can correct form and expand our knowledge but for now I practice at home in front of a mirror ☺ My favorite youtube instructor thus far is Adriene from Yoga with Adriene. She has a playful personality, is extremely knowledgeable, and really does a good job instructing. And the best part…..it’s free!! There are actually quite a few free Yoga classes available online, I just haven’t tried them all but I plan to! The home videos that I have had good experience with are from GAIAM and Element, but there are lots out there and everyone is going to have their preference of instructor. I personally look for an instructor that can talk me through the moves and allow me to do them without having to constantly look up at the screen. I would also suggest checking out videos from your local library, if possible, before buying so you can try them for free and see what suits you best!
Here are some sites and videos that I personally enjoy:
- Gentle Yoga for Weight Loss
- Yoga for Stress Relief and Flexibility
- Prenatal Yoga
- Yoga with Adriene
- Yoga Journal/Kathryn Budig
Photo credit: byheaven
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