FIVE REASONS YOU SHOULD BE DOING YOGA
The ancient practice of yoga has stood the test of time – and for good reason. It’s a total mind-body experience, with numerous health benefits. Stepping onto the mat can help enhance both your physical and mental wellbeing – and there are studies to prove it.
But don’t just take our word for it – give it a go yourself. Ellie Murray teaches mixed ability yoga classes in and around Newquay, with drop-ins welcome and mats provided.
Here are Ellie’s top five reasons to practise yoga:
1. IT BUILDS STRENGTH AND STAMINA
There’s no need to hit the gym – yoga will help tone your body. The different poses engage various different muscle groups, from your arms to your abs. It’s a full body workout without ever having to lift a weight. Stronger flow classes can also raise your heart rate and get you sweating, with studies suggesting it can also be a healthy way to lose weight.
2. IT CAN HELP RELIEVE STRESS
It’s official – yoga can decrease stress and anxiety. When you walk out of a good yoga class, you feel lighter in both body and mind. Breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, and visualisation are all techniques that help to reduce anxiety – and yoga incorporates all three. The practice can reduce blood pressure and soothe the mind.
3. IT CAN IMPROVE YOUR MENTAL FOCUS
Yoga isn’t about who can throw the best shapes on the mat. The original reason that the yogis of old would practise asana (the physical postures we do in yoga) is to be more comfortable while sitting still for long periods of meditation. Not all classes involve meditation – but most of them will incorporate at least a moment of stillness, and of turning your attention inwards. Yoga is about being present, both physically and mentally. And studies also suggest that yoga can actually help boost brain function.
4. IT CAN HELP YOU SLEEP
Yoga can help ease insomnia, according to research. Come along to a class and you’ll soon see why. Virtually all classes end with ‘savasana’, or corpse pose, a final relaxation where you soak up all the benefits of your practice. Many postures feel grounding, such as forward bends. Inversions, like child’s pose and headstands, where your head is below your heart, are also calming. Some types of pranayama (breathing exercises) such as ‘nadi shodhana’ (alternate nostril breathing) are also relaxing – so perfect to practise before bed.
5. THERE’S A STYLE TO SUIT YOU
No matter your reasons for practising yoga, there’s a style to suit you. Beginners can head to a foundation class, which focuses on the basics and moves at a slower pace. Mixed-ability classes include pose variations to adapt the sequence to suit different levels. If you’re after a faster class, look for vinyasa flow, which moves from one pose to the next without stopping. Ashtanga is a highly-structured, traditional style of yoga, while Iyengar is great for learning the correct alignment. For total relaxation, look to yin or restorative yoga.