The fitness benefits of yoga

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Practicing yoga
Yoga may seem out of your reach, but it isn't
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Practicing yoga will benefit you more than you can imagine

If you want to get, and stay, in shape, but the thought of pounding the pavement, jogging, in the heat, rain, sleet and snow, or running on a tread mill in a gym or pumping iron is not your cup of tea, go for the tried and true method of getting, and staying, fit: Yoga. 

If you are a gentleman or a woman of a certain age all the more reason to try yoga. In yoga, there is little risk of injuring your ligaments or muscles.

Yoga is a simple physical activity to begin, requiring only basic equipment, like a yoga mat, towel and bag for your clothes, and water. Yoga instruction is available at health clubs, organizations like the YMCA, park districts and from private teachers. The price range for classes runs a wide spectrum. There are many yoga instructional DVDs and illustrated books available. After you have learned basic yoga, you can practice alone or with friends.

When practicing yoga, you will become aware of your breathing and how you can control it. Breathing, deeply and consciously, can get you through a lot of stressful situations that otherwise would have caused you to crack, or at the very least hyperventilate, under the pressure

The benefits of yoga may seem subtle at first but over time you will reap the rewards of engaging in this practice. If you want to firm and tone your muscles, lengthen and strengthen your spine, cope with your stress and maintain a more balanced psyche, this is the form of exercise for you.

Yoga is therapeutic. You become acutely aware of your body alignment, posture, and the way your body moves. A practitioner of yoga ultimately comes more peaceful, energetic and physically fit.

The physiological benefits from doing yoga can fill a book. Your weight will normalize, as does your gastrointestinal function. Your joint range of motion and flexibility increases and your respiratory rate decreases. Your reaction time will improve as will your eye-hand coordination and dexterity skills.

You will see an improvement in your posture as well as an improvement in your balance and energy and endurance levels. You will sleep better, feel less pain and find that your strength and resiliency have gotten better.

Practicing yoga regularly will decrease your cholesterol- triglyceride-, glucose- and sodium levels. It will increase your hemoglobin, hematocrit, vitamin C levels, serum protein and lymphocyte count.

Yoga will definitely increase your flexibility, which we, unfortunately, lose as we age. If you do not use it, you are going to lose it as the old adage goes and getting up from a chair or bending over is going to cause you great pain. Yoga acts on your joints, including those joints that we are not aware of, let alone exercise engaging in exercise.

When you do the yoga postures, you increase lubrication in your tendons, joints and ligaments. Even a rigid, stiff, heretofore unexercised body will respond rapidly to yoga postures.

All the organs in your body will be massaged when you do yoga poses. When you tend to your organs in this manner it safeguards them from disease and makes you more aware if you are stricken with a disorder, which allows you to take preemptive action.

Incorporating the spiritual aspect of yoga with the physiological can bring you great mental and physical rewards.


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