Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Why You Should Add Yoga to Your Workout

Did you know that yoga has a ton of health benefits?  Yep.  It helps to improve your balance, flexibility and muscle tone in addition to helping you sleep better.

Here are a few reasons to add yoga to your fitness routine:

·    Boost your immunity.  A recent Norwegian study found that yoga practice results in changes in gene expression that boost immunity at a cellular level. And it doesn’t take long: The researchers believe the changes occurred while participants were still on the mat, and they were significantly greater than a control group who went on a nature hike while listening to soothing music.

·    Curb your food cravings.  Researchers from the University of Washington found that regular yoga practice is associated with mindful eating, an awareness of physical and emotional sensations associated with eating. By causing breath awareness, regular yoga practice strengthens the mind-body connection.  The awareness can help you tune in to emotions involved with certain cravings, and yoga breathing exercises can help you slow down and make better choices when cravings strike.

·    Increase your flexibility.  Yoga poses work by stretching your muscles. Therefore, help you move better and feel less stiff or tired.  At any level of yoga, you'll probably start to notice benefits quickly. In one study, people improved their flexibility by up to 35% after only 8 weeks of yoga.

·    Improve your muscle tone.  Some styles of yoga, such as Ashtanga and Power Yoga, are very physical. Practicing one of these styles will help you improve muscle tone. But even less vigorous styles of yoga, such as Hatha, can provide strength and endurance benefits.

            Many of the poses, such as Downward Dog, Upward Dog and the Plank pose, build upper-
            body strength. The standing poses, especially if you hold them for several long breaths, build
            strength in your hamstrings, quadriceps and abs. Poses that strengthen the lower back include
            Upward Dog and the Chair pose.  When done right, nearly all poses build core strength in the
            deep abdominal muscles.

·    Better your posture.  When you're stronger and more flexible, your posture improves.  Most standing and sitting poses develop core strength, since you need your core muscles to support and maintain each pose. With a stronger core, you're more likely to sit and stand "tall." Yoga also helps your body awareness. That helps you notice more quickly if you're slouching or slumping, so you can adjust your posture.

·    Learn to relax.  Yoga helps you realize and practice the mind-body connection by focusing on your thoughts and breathing properly.  This helps to slow your heart rate and your racing mind which helps you sleep better.  When you receive enough restful sleep, you become a more positive person and have more energy throughout the day.

If you think you don’t have time to add yoga to your exercise routine.  Think again.  Consider how often you’re on social media. Checking Facebook, for example, multiple times a day could amount to one or more hours– that’s plenty of time to sneak in a workout!
To learn how Fitness for Health can help you improve your mind-body connection utilizing state-of-the-art fitness technology, visit www.FitnessForHealth.org or call 301-231-7138.

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