Yoga – a helping hand in achieving your fitness goals!
Stepping into Spring
As we step in to spring many of us are in the beginnings of a fitness programme getting back to running, cycling or perhaps returning to the gym. Yet, I encounter many students coming to yoga having had their fitness attempts thwarted in the first few weeks by an injury as a result of not stretching, not understanding their body and overdoing things too early in their training efforts. I’d like to share how, what appears to be, a slow and gentle pursuit can make a huge and positive difference in improving your fitness levels.
I also hear many people tell me ‘I’m not flexible enough to do yoga – I can’t even touch my toes’, yet this is a perfect reason to embark on yoga!
Yoga and other forms of exercise are not mutually exclusive, any more than your mind and body are. More and more professional sports people are realising that yoga can enhance not just their performance, but their overall quality of life.
Yoga is for everyone – not just the bendy!
Yoga is essential for anyone participating in sport and exercise, to have good balance and co-ordination, and to ensure that core areas such as the joints, mid-section and upper body are strong and have a wide range of motion. If you can breathe you can do yoga and we are spoiled for choice as to the options of ‘types’ of yoga out there and available to us.
When it comes to preparing for an endurance or competitive event such as anything from a fun run to a marathon or a gruelling assault course – the benefits of practicing yoga are endless!
With so many of us signing up to such events, giving us a goal to work towards and often to raise some money for charity in the process, more and more of us are embarking on more sophisticated fitness programmes to prepare. Practising yoga as part of your preparations improves flexibility and the condition of the muscles, enhances balance and proprioception and increases endurance in the muscles and respiratory system. Yoga aids recovery and prevents injury by improving blood flow and mentally yoga reduces stress levels and improves clarity and focus – all of which lead to better athletic performance.
Professional sports coaches and trainers have long been encouraging their clients to take up yoga to complement their training programme.
Yoga helps you understand your body better.
Often when we start a fitness programme we’re often unaware of any areas of tightness or weakness within our muscles and ligaments (and sometimes this can be extreme in places), which can restrict our range of movement and increase the risk of injury. Through yoga it’s possible to understand where you’re strong or weak, tight or inflexible which allows you to correct those problems as you go. By focusing on such areas the practice of yoga can improve mobility and flexibility and restore balance to the body.
Yoga promotes rest and recovery and restores our energy levels.
Downtime supports recovery by making time to relax and clear our minds of stress and negativity.
Yoga improves mental focus and clarity, helping you to achieve more than you ever thought possible.
When we feel calm and in control, we focus more clearly on our goals, over-ride fearful and doubtful thoughts and achieve more than we ever thought possible.
Ten minutes a day is an achievable target and a great start.
Regular consistent practice is the key to achieving results.
Keep it simple, start with the basics and build up gradually. There’s a wealth of wonderful teachers and accessible information out there – all you need to do is dip your toe, be open to it and a whole world of yoga will unfold before you.
Find a style of yoga and a teacher that resonates with you while online tools are helpful there is nothing like having a teacher to assist you get the most out of your practice and in a way that works for your body.
I do hope that these pointers will encourage you to make your way through the doors of a yoga studio, follow an online yoga sequence or pick up a book. I promise you you won’t regret it.
Whatever you do, enjoy it – practice yoga or any type of exercise to feel better about yourself, improve your mood, increase your energy levels and enhance your life!
With love to you as you make your way through!
Lis Xxx (Prana Mama Yoga)