Yoga - Yoga Asanas and Benefits of Yoga

Yoga has been practiced for more than 5,000 years in India and currently many are enjoying its health benefits globally.

Yoga can hardly be called a trend. Many versions of Yoga have emerged and they focus on physical poses, or asanas regulated with breathing and meditating techniques.  Some yoga classes are designed purely for relaxation. But there are styles of yoga that teach you how to move your body in new ways. Many of these styles offer greatest health benefits by enabling you to develop your flexibility, strength, and balance.

Before You Start:  Even though for most healthy people yoga is a safe non-aerobic form of exercise, it is not without its risks. It makes sense to do most of the intricate asanas under the supervision of a guru or a teacher. Yoga if done properly helps in flexibility.  Many yoga injuries if not done in a proper manner can cause muscle stress of legs, knees or spine.

There also certain poses which should not be done if you are suffering from arthritis, back ache, high blood pressure, osteoporosis.

In case of Pregnant women there are specially designed asanas which can help them go for natural delivery. Your yoga teacher can advise you on the various asanas to be followed daily.

Please remember that Yoga is not a substitute for medical care. Yoga offers many health benefits and may even be included as part of some treatment plans. But it's still important to work closely with your health care providers and get proper treatment when you need it.

Before beginning any new type of yoga, ask about its physical demands on your body. Find out how strenuous it is. Talk with the instructor and others who do that type of yoga to be sure it's suitable for you.

Yoga is all about going slow. You're not in competition with anyone. Yoga teaches you to focus on the basics of breathing and how to maintain you peace of mind.

Before you start Yoga, please remember to warm up properly. Cold muscles increase your chance of injury. Proper clothing is also important. Wear clothes that allow you to move freely. Its important that you practice yoga in a quite environment.Yoga isn't supposed to hurt. If you feel pain, stop. If the pain persists, see your health care provider. Stop immediately if you have chest pain, feel faint or overheated, or become dizzy. Get immediate medical help if the sensation continues after you stop.

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Yoga and Flexibility

When some people think of yoga, they imagine having to stretch like a gymnast. That makes them worry that they're too old, unfit, or "tight" to do yoga. The truth is you're never too old to improve flexibility. The series of yoga poses called asanas work by stretching muscles. Stretching for Yoga releases the lactic acid that builds up with muscle use, causing stiffness, tension, pain, and fatigue. In addition, yoga increases the range of motion in joints. It may also increase lubrication in the joints. The outcome is a sense of ease and fluidity throughout your body.

Yoga stretches not only your muscles but all of the soft tissues of your body. That includes ligaments, tendons, and the fascia sheath that surrounds your muscles. And no matter your level of yoga, you most likely will see benefits in a very short period of time.

Yoga and Strength

Some styles of yoga, such as ashtanga and power yoga, are more vigorous than others. Practicing one of these styles will help you improve muscle tone.

But even less vigorous styles of yoga, such as Iyengar or hatha, which focuses on less movement and more precise alignment in poses, can provide strength and endurance benefits.

Many of the poses, such as downward dog, upward dog, and the plank pose, build upper-body strength. This becomes crucial as people age. The standing poses, especially if you hold them for several long breaths, build strength in your hamstrings, quadriceps, and abdominal muscles. Poses that strengthen the lower back include upward dog and the chair pose. When practiced correctly, nearly all poses build core strength in the deep abdominal muscles.

Yoga Can Help Posture

With increased flexibility and strength comes better posture. Most standing and sitting poses develop core strength. That's because you're counting on your deep abdominals to support and maintain each pose. With a stronger core, you're more likely to sit and stand "tall." Another benefit of yoga is the increased body awareness. This heightened awareness tells you more quickly when you're slouching or slumping so you can adjust your posture.

Yoga Benefits Breathing
Because of the deep, mindful breathing that yoga involves, lung capacity often improves. This in turn can improve sports performance and endurance. But yoga typically isn't focused on aerobic fitness the way running or cycling are. Taking an intense power yoga class that gets you breathing hard in a heated room, however, can provide an aerobic benefit.

Most forms of yoga emphasize deepening and lengthening your breath. This stimulates the relaxation response -- the opposite of the fight-or-flight adrenaline boost of the stress response.


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