Healthy Living

Yoga Health Benefits - if it’s good enough for Ryan Giggs!

Jeannette Jackson

Ryan Giggs swears by the health benefits of yoga to aid and maintain his fitness levels. But there are so many styles and types of yoga these days that we thought we’d offer you a few suggestions, in case you’re new to yoga and thinking of finding a class locally.

 

The word ‘yoga’ comes from the Sanskrit word ‘yui’, meaning ‘to join’ or ‘unit’, and is thought to originate from India over 5,000 years ago. Yoga exercise is a series of stretches and postures which include breath control and mindful meditation. There are now many different forms of yoga, but each have the same basic philosophy of uniting the body and the mind and creating union with oneself.

 

Yoga can be very gentle or extremely dynamic, but always brings great strength and power of both mind and body. Given that it’s often our minds that talk us out of going to the gym or doing any exercise to develop discipline and control, this is crucial.

 

The integrative disciplines and benefits of yoga are numerous:

  • Anti-Aging - Yoga helps to stimulate the detoxification process and thus helps to eliminate free radicals that can cause premature ageing
  • Sleep - Yoga helps to induce deep restful sleep as the rhythmic contraction of the muscles helps to remove tension and create a sense of deep relaxation
  • Immune Booster - The lymphatic system (the body’s natural defense system) is stimulated through movement in yoga poses to clear excess fluids, pathogens and helps remove toxins
  • Weight Loss - Yoga helps to burn calories and reduce stress, therefore eliminating the need for ‘emotional eating’. When you feel physically balanced, you balance out your eating
  • Strength - Some of the postures in yoga are weight bearing and offer endurance and resistance to the muscles thus developing muscle tone and taut, lean muscles
  • Flexibility - Yoga offers flexibility to the spine and Maya Fiennes author of ‘Yoga for Everyday’ says age is measured by the flexibility of the spine. To stay young, stay flexible

 

There are many types of yoga, here are a few of the most popular:

Ashtanga Yoga

Not necessarily for beginners unless otherwise stated by the class! It can be very physically demanding and quite complex with synchronized breathing techniques. That said, it is amazing and if you can build your yoga practice up to the point where you are able to do Ashtanga then the benefits of improved circulation, a strong, fit body and amazing stamina are fantastic.

 

Bikram Yoga

This is ‘hot yoga’ founded by Bikram Choudry in 1963 and practiced in special rooms where the temperature is 40°C. The series of 26 postures and two breath exercises offer superb benefits for the whole body, especially the immune system. The heat is said to help you develop a more subtle body as the muscles are able to stretch more without the risk of injury.

 

Hatha Yoga

A very gentle popular form of yoga incorporating gentle postures, breathing exercises and meditation as a system for all to enjoy. It brings a great sense of peace, calm and deep relaxation to the body.

 

Kundalini Yoga

This practice concentrates on awakening the energy at the base of the spine and drawing it upward. In addition to postures, a typical class will also include chanting, meditation, and breathing exercises.

 

 

It’s all about finding the right style of yoga for you, based on your level of fitness and what you want to achieve. Whichever type of yoga you choose, you can look forward to a stronger, more supple body, and a calmer, clearer mind.

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