Cross-fit, weight training, jogging, boot-camp, the myriad of choices is daunting. How on earth do you go about choosing a fitness routine? At this point in time, the need for fitness is even more critical that we have an outlet to blow off stress. Is there even such a thing as a perfect fitness routine? After evaluating many, many different exercises and routines, conclusive evidence suggests that one does fit the bill, and that is Yoga. The practice of Yoga is highly beneficial to decrease stress and anxiety, improve the quality of life, and improve flexibility and balance.
The stress and anxiety in today’s world is palpable. Turn on the news and you get a blast of negativity almost instantly. That and being cooped up all day on lockdown really does a number on your mind, your body, and your soul. Everyone has a preconceived notion of what Yoga is. What I want you to do is clear you mind of these thoughts that Yoga is just good for stretching, it is much more than that. According to a study conducted by the International Journal of Preventive Medicine (Shohani et al., 2018), “depression, anxiety, and stress decreased significantly in women after 12 sessions of regular hatha yoga practice” (p. 21). How does it work? Holding a pose causes you to go within, to think in the now and nothing else. It is not possible doing the bow pose and thinking how bad my job is, or what to make for dinner. It forces you to be in the now, almost like an automatic meditation if you will. This is how Yoga causes stress and anxiety to melt away, by holding a pose, your mind goes within, and lets all the drama and tension of the day release into the ether. In addition to reducing stress and anxiety Yoga also improves the quality of life.
The ideal fitness routine will not only make you sweat but also improve the quality of life. Sleep effects your health in many ways. Not enough and several health issues such as memory loss, weight gain, trouble thinking, mood changes, weakened immunity and a host of others can exist. Studies have found that a routine Yoga practice significantly improves overall sleep quality, sleep duration and sleep efficiency, the percentage of time in bed that they were sleeping. Yoga can also reduce symptoms in patients with chronic conditions. An eight-week study of women with breast cancer practicing yoga showed less pain, less fatigue, and improvements in levels of relaxation, invigoration, and acceptance. Millions of people suffer from chronic pain. One such condition is osteoarthritis. A 2005 study showed that participants with osteoarthritis in the knees had a significant decrease in pain and improved physical function after following a six-month yoga practice. By far Yoga outshines the fitness competitors in improving quality of life and has a marked effect on flexibility and balance.
Flexibility and balance are the key elements to good health. Over time, our sedentary lifestyle, poor posture habits, and aging, all contribute to our loss of flexibility. There is a much greater risk of injury when your muscles are tense and tight. A routine Yoga practice increases your range of motion making it easier for you to move your joints with less effort. The stretching relieves tension and tightness, making for a better posture, less stress and less prone to injury. Balance not only affects us physically but also mentally. Physically, having balance requires us to have good core strength. Yoga facilitates by having the entire body engaged in the pose, increasing strength and full body awareness. Mentally, you need total focus and the ability to stay in focus. Having your mind drift off during a tree pose will quickly turn into well, a downed tree. There is no doubt Yoga is the best choice for flexibility and balance.
The practice of Yoga is highly beneficial to decrease stress and anxiety, improve the quality of life, and improve flexibility and balance. We cannot get rid of all stress and anxiety in our lives, not in today’s world. As we have seen though, we can however greatly reduce and release the stress by practicing Yoga. A better night’s sleep, less pain and less fatigue all increase our quality of life by the benefits of Yoga. Lastly, as we age, it is imperative we stay flexible and balanced to prevent injury and by doing Yoga consistently we can be assured of good health for a long time to come.
Shohani, M., Badfar, G., Nasirkandy, M., Kaikhavani, S., Rahmati, S., Modmeli, Y., . . . Azami, M. (2018, February 21). The Effect of Yoga on Stress, Anxiety, and Depression in Women.