In my last article, I considered the self-empowerment of knowing that you are creating benefits for yourself to enjoy by doing yoga. It is, undoubtedly, a multifaceted practice. You work on healing yourself, on building your spiritual practice and improving your mental health alongside gaining flexibility and understanding of your own body. With yoga, you are able to gain back control of your own being. It is that empowerment that makes it so important, especially in this fast-paced time in which we are living today.
Today, I want to look at the specific physical benefits of yoga.
Some people wonder if they’ll lose weight when doing yoga. Some want to improve their performance, whether it is greater flexibility or strength. The third want to heal their chronic pain or improve their posture. The truth is – yoga does all that.
The reason why yoga improves every aspect of your body is that it uses primal movements. When you observe yoga poses, you will notice you’ve done many of them since you were a child. We squat before we walk, nearly every child tries rolling on the floor, stretching, and doing the candle pose with your feet high in the air above you as you lie on your back with your hands supporting your torso. With yoga, we’re not focusing only on one aspect of our body. We’re doing natural movements that simultaneously improve our strength and range of motion.
Still, there are different styles of yoga you can do, if you want to focus on a certain physical benefit. All styles will still improve every aspect of your body, but some do some things a bit better than others.
For example, if your main goal is to build strength and to lose weight, a more dynamic style of yoga would be appropriate. There are many styles of dynamic yoga, including Ashtanga, Rocket yoga, Iyengar yoga, Hot yoga, and more, but they can all be described as Vinyasa Yoga. Vinyasa yoga is every type of practice where you spend a lot of time in a variety of standing poses and move through them at a fast pace.
On the other hand, those who want to combat back pain and other chronic issues, or want to improve their flexibility, might well be attracted to more gentle yoga styles. Although Hatha yoga meant something else in the past, today we relate this word to a slow and gentle yoga style. Other variations are Restorative and Yin yoga. In these styles of yoga, we spend most of our time in sitting and lying positions, and we hold them for longer.
Most yogis are attracted to one style of yoga the most. Still, with time, you will realize you don’t have to decide. Simply choose the style of yoga that gives you the physical benefit you need at this day, this season, or this period of your life. Don’t overcomplicate things – why not try out a variety and see which one aligns with your needs best?
I hope that this may have shed some light on a few of the more physical benefits available in yoga. There is a lot more that can be said, certainly, but to go through the specific benefits of individual poses will have to be a task (and a read) for the future.
In my next article, I will look at the mental benefits of doing yoga, particularly if you can manage to create a habit, to step onto your mat on a semi-regular basis. Do you find your mental health improves from your time yoga-ing? Let me know in the comments below if you’d like.