Although yoga poses may seem daunting at first, they are actually very accessible. This is just one benefit of yoga that anyone interested in the practice should know.

This is partly because yoga is primarily about turning inward and focusing your attention on aligning your body with your mind.

“Yoga is more than a physical practice. It is a holistic program for how to live in the world.” Ingrid Yang is an intern medicine physician who is also a registered yoga teacher in San Diego.

She says that yoga is actually a Sanskrit term yuj which means to yoke, or bind. Understanding the definition will help us to understand that yoga is a state of connection. This refers to the union between our body and mind. Yoga is an organic method of keeping our mind and bodies in one place.

There’s more to yoga than that. Here’s how to get started with this mentally stimulating form of exercise.

What is yoga?

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrated Health yoga refers to an ancient practice that is based on the Indian philosophy for promoting mental and physical health. It dates back more than 4,000 years.

Yoga is unique because it combines the mindfulness benefits of meditation and physical poses, also called as asanas. You’re not only training your muscles to deal with life’s challenges by the way you move through the postures, but also using your breath and mind to stay grounded.

Dr. Yang explains that yoga poses are meant to strengthen and align your bones and muscles, which can help relieve tension in your body.

“During a yoga session, we become more aware of our thoughts and are more sensitive to the emotions that arise. Dr. Yang explains that when we do this simultaneously, we open our hearts and calm down our minds. This allows us to live more naturally and with more positivity.

What beginners need to know about yoga

There are many styles to yoga. These include hatha, vinyasa and Ashtanga. A hatha class is a good place to start if you are new to yoga. It’s gentle and teaches basic poses that will help you master other forms of yoga. Keisha Courney is a registered yoga teacher in Oakland. She founded The Driver Yogi which provides continuing education for yoga teachers to make them safer, more inclusive, and more effective.

“Hatha tends not to move at the same pace as other people, so poses are broken down more clearly,” Amanda Tripp from The Driven Yogi community says. For those who are more experienced, you might want to take a beginner vinyasa and Ashtanga classes. These classes are more intense and faster-paced. Hot yoga can be done in a heated space, making it more difficult.

Classes can help you get to grips with different types of yoga if you aren’t sure where to begin. Fortunately, most of the in-person options are not available due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there are many classes and tutorials.

Courtney suggests that you start with a simple internet search such as “yoga for beginners”. This will expose you to many different types of practices, some that take only a few minutes while others can last up to an hour. The class will help you to understand the basics of yoga. She says that once you’re comfortable with the basics you can add to your practice,” she said.

Tripp suggests that a beginner program lasting six to eight weeks might be helpful to learn the foundational poses of yoga step by step. Not only will you learn the meaning of common Sanskrit terms, but you will also be able to use props such as blocks and straps to help with your breathing.

Dr. Yang recommends that you book a private session online to work with a yoga teacher who can tailor the poses to your goals and needs. She explains that a yoga teacher can spot imbalances in your body, and offer suggestions on how to restore balance and strength.

How often should you practice yoga? Courtney states that there is no one answer. It all depends on your fitness level and your goals. Dr. Yang suggests that you practice yoga two to three times per week if your goal is to improve your yoga skills. However, it’s possible to see significant improvement if you only do it once a week.

If you don’t want to devote a lot of time to yoga, it can be incorporated into your routine as a warm up or cooling down. You can use it to promote relaxation and slow down your heart beat.

This is just one benefit of yoga that you can enjoy by including it into your daily routine. These are just a few of the many benefits of this ancient form of exercise that you need to know.

Yoga has many physical benefits

1. Reduces chronic low-back pain

Poor posture can cause neck, back and shoulder pain if you are seated at a computer or a couch all day. Dr. Yang says yoga improves posture and can help prevent low-back pain as well as neck and shoulder pain.

According to the National Institutes of Health, yoga promotes low back pain relief in two ways. First, meditation techniques in yoga can help with relaxation from chronic low-back discomfort. There are also the poses: Yoga postures help to strengthen the core and stabilize the spine, which is important for low-back pain treatment.

A 2016 review of 27 studies, published in the Journal of Rheumatology and Orthopedics, concluded that yoga may be more effective than the standard of care for reducing the severity of chronic low back pain or the discomfort.

As SELF previously reported, Child’s Pose, Cat/Cow and Downward Facing dog are some of the best yoga poses for lower back pain.

2. Increase body awareness

Grounding your body in order to hold the poses will help you build a lot of small and large muscles. Yoga is also about proper form. You need to activate the correct muscles. This helps you understand how your muscles, joints and tissues interact. Courtney states that this can help you move safely.

Yoga is an alignment-based discipline. Dr. Yang explains that we learn how to align and stack our joints in order to maximize the use of our muscles and to release active energy. It also helps us to be more aware of our bodies, which allows us to live with less discomfort and greater physical freedom.

Tree pose is a way to balance on one leg while doing Tree pose. This involves firing your inner quads, quads and core to keep you upright and prevent you from falling over. You will also be more aware of where your ankle, hips and shoulder joints are and how they are supported and supported by tissues and tendons to ensure you stay balanced and aligned.

3. Combat fatigue

Your heart pumps oxygen-rich blood more efficiently to your muscles and organs, such as when you do yoga stretches throughout the day. According to the International Sports Science Association, this can reduce fatigue and tiredness.

A small study published in August 2017 in the Journal of Science in Medicine in Sport found that practicing Bikram yoga can improve energy levels and reduce stress levels. A 16-week Bikram Yoga program was found to improve energy and quality of life for chronically stressed and sedentary adults. Researchers found similar fatigue-fighting effects to Hatha yoga.

Courtney says that inversion poses, which are where your heart is higher than your head, may be especially helpful for increasing energy. These poses include Forward Fold and Downward Facing dog.

4. Balance promotes

Warrior III, Eagle, Tree and Crow balance yoga poses. To remove a support base (say, standing on one leg), you need to activate stabilizing muscles. This helps to improve your balance . This is especially important as you age.

People age more slowly due to arthritis, inactivity and other age-related diseases. Research has shown that yoga-based exercise is associated with greater mobility and balance in people over 60 years old.

Dr. Yang says that better balance can lead to a decrease in injury risk as well as an increase in athletic performance. Dr. Yang says that balance can lead to a reduction in injury risk and an increase in athletic performance. You can think of doing a single leg deadlift. If you are able to activate the right muscles (your core, lats and glutes on the working leg), you will be able complete the move faster, which will help you build strength.

5. Eases you into regular exercise

Vigorous exercise might not be for you if you are new to exercising or just starting to get back into a routine. Many people who want to start exercising turn towards yoga. It’s low-impact, easy-to-follow, and accessible for all fitness levels.

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Yoga is a type you are more likely to do regularly and stick with. According to a small study on physically inactive adults, attending yoga classes twice a week significantly increased physical activity adherence, something that lasted even after participants quit taking classes.

6. Improves heart health

In 2014, a review published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that yoga may have some promising effects on cardiovascular disease risks by lowering heart rate and blood pressure, as well as cholesterol. This is likely to be due to yoga’s physical and spiritual aspects, as well as its focus on breathing.

Dr. Yang explains that yoga helps to train the vagus nerve which controls the parasympathetic nervous systems (the part responsible for lowering heart beat and encouraging relaxation) in order to be more responsive. “Your heart function may be improved.”

7. Improved breathing is reinforced

You’ll be able to relax and feel calm if you follow a yoga sequence for just five minutes. You’ll learn to rely on your breathing to maintain proper form as you stretch into each pose.

Yoga uses diaphragmatic breath. This is where you concentrate on expanding your diaphragm while breathing. Dr. Yang explained that this focus helps strengthen the diaphragmatic muscles, which in turn allows the lungs to absorb more capacity and grow stronger. “The diaphragm actually runs through the vagus nervous, and the movement around the vagus neuro stimulates the parasympathetic reaction, which allows us to access the rest-and digest response more easily.”

This type of breathing can be easily translated into something you use every day in stressful situations, or when you exercise.

8. Strengthens your organization

Although yoga isn’t as well-known for strengthening strength as weightlifting, it will give you the same benefits from doing poses. Holding Chair pose is very similar to doing a push-up. Moving through chaturanga requires you to do a Plank.

Courtney states that while the poses may seem easy, holding them for long periods of time can be a workout. You may be able to experience strength-building benefits faster if you do more asana, such as vinyasa and Ashtanga.

The isometric holds can have a significant impact on muscle building, depending on what style of yoga you are practicing. Isometric exercises such as the Plank involve contracting a muscle, or group of muscles, without actually moving the joints around the muscle. According to the Mayo Clinic, this makes it a great exercise for those who have joint problems or are recovering from injuries. While isometric exercises don’t help you grow bigger muscles, they can improve your endurance and performance.

9. Increases flexibility

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, flexibility is the ability of your muscles to stretch or lengthen. Tripp states that yoga can improve flexibility by allowing your muscles to relax and enabling you to do gentle stretching.

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You can improve your fitness performance by having more flexibility. A muscle must be able to contract fully in order to fully stretch. Tripp says flexibility training can allow you to access all of your joints’ motion. This will enable your muscles work more efficiently. A limited range of motion can hinder your ability to perform certain movements.

Tripp states that a limited ankle range can severely limit your ability to squat. However, if you can squat with a full range of motion (parallel and below parallel), your glute muscles will be more effective. This will allow you to load more resistance and greater strength gains.

A lower chance of injury can be achieved by having more flexibility. Tripp states that chronically tight pectoral muscles (the muscle in your chest) can cause your shoulders and neck to round out, causing your shoulder to move out of neutral. You can injure yourself if you place weight on a joint that isn’t properly aligned, such as when your chest presses during an upper-body exercise.

10. Sleep better

Yoga can improve your quality of sleep by allowing you to relax and breathe better. A meta-analysis involving 19 studies that looked at women with sleep issues found yoga to be associated with higher sleep quality scores. The benefits of yoga were stronger the longer you practice it.

You may not want to do more intense yoga if you are practicing late at night. These bedtime stretching can prepare you for a restful night’s sleep.

Yoga has mental benefits

1. Improves your mood

No exercise will “cure” mental conditions such as anxiety or depression. It can be frustrating to hear that you should “just do some exercise” if you are dealing with them. Yoga may be able to help you feel better if you have these conditions.

study of 48 office workers published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health showed that employees felt less stressed after practicing yoga for six weeks. The workers also reported feeling less stressed than their colleagues who did not practice yoga.

A separate study was published in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. It found that people who practiced yoga three times a day for 12 weeks experienced a greater reduction in anxiety than those who walked the same distance. Researchers believe that yoga poses and focused breathing may trigger the parasympathetic nervous systems, which can reduce anxiety.

2. Relax your mind

Yoga can help you relax whether you are doing some Cat-Cow moves or lying down in Savasana. You’ll feel calmer by focusing on your breathing, releasing tension from your joints and muscles through the poses.

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Tripp states that relaxation is a valuable skill you can learn. Yoga is a movement method that can help you to calm your mind. Yoga can help you focus on the present moment by focusing your attention on precision and timing your movements with your breath. This is a great way for you to get out of your head into your body.

3. This will give you a peaceful “end” to your exercise routine

After a hard workout, cooling off with some yoga stretching could help to loosen your muscles and get your mind out of a high-intensity state. Courtney recommends using a box breathing technique after a hard workout to increase those benefits and stretch afterwards.

Inhale and hold for four counts, then exhale for four. Hold for four more, then inhale again for four. She suggests that you repeat this technique three to four times while doing a stretch. Tuning into your breath can help you to feel calmer and release anxiety.

Keep in mind that by focusing on your breathing, you activate your parasympathetic nervous systems, which tells your body that you are done with your workout and that it is time to relax.

4. Focus improves

It takes concentration and endurance to hold a pose in yoga correctly. Courtney says that this combination will not only improve your yoga performance but also allow you to sharpen your mental focus in stressful situations in your daily life.

“Yoga is a practice that requires you to hold poses for a set amount of time. Courtney says that it takes concentration and telling your mind to trust your body. These skills can be transferred to your daily life and used in stressful situations.

5. Resilience can be cultivated

Although yoga can activate your body’s relaxation response it’s not always easy. You can learn to accept discomfort by performing twists, binds and Inversions yoga poses. Although they can be difficult, each pose has an end and a new one behind it.

Dr. Yang, for example, says that vinyasa is her favorite form of yoga because it most closely resembles real life.

You can’t hold a position for too long. Therefore, if you don’t like a particular posture, you will soon get rid of it. She explains that if you love a particular posture, you can learn to let go of it. “The next posture will come out soon enough for you to enjoy,” she says. It teaches us how to live in the natural rhythms. You learn to accept discomfort when it happens because you know that it will pass. You can be joyful, but you don’t want to lose something. Things will change.

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