Fitness

5 Lesser Known Benefits of Yoga

5 Lesser Known Benefits of Yoga

Yoga is an age old practice that is only recently coming into the light. The common misconception being that yoga is a full-time way-of-life-commitment, and in our increasingly hectic and technology driven lives many of us don’t have the time or energy to expend on such a huge transformational lifestyle pledge.
 
I will hold my hands up and confess that I was once a fully-fledged ‘yogi-sceptic’, thinking a good workout was measured in calories burned, weight lifted and sweat patch magnitude (and my embarrassing inflexibility didn’t do much to help). I never stopped to appreciate that the low intensity alternative could actually allow my body to relax and recharge, without compromising my fitness goals. Fast-forward two years, and I now attend yoga classes at least three times a week, am constantly pushing myself to master more advanced inversions and asana’s, and work on my now drastically improved flexibility in the comfort of my bedroom for at least ten minutes most evenings. And I am not alone. Yoga has gained a huge cult-like following over the past few years the health benefits have become more widely spread. But if you still need persuading, keep reading to find 5 lesser known benefits of the practice…

  1. Builds Muscle Strength
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    Builds Muscle Strength

    Having strong muscles is a vital component of well-rounded health, and yoga has the added benefit of building strength and flexibility simultaneously. This allows you to become both supple and strong- something weight lifting alone fails to achieve. By replacing weights with your own bodyweight, your core stability is challenged in different ways, providing all over body conditioning. Not only will yoga strengthen the muscle, certain practices such as Yin yoga (where each pose is held for a prolonged period of time) will also advance muscle endurance, reducing the risk of sports related injury- something especially important if your day job has you sitting at a desk for 8-9 hours a day.

    PRO YOGI TIP:

    BEGINNER: To build strong, stable legs try holding positions that use wide stance lunges to build endurance in the quads and hamstrings such as Warrior and Triangle.

    INTERMEDIATE: For all over body conditioning, try sequencing several muscle-strengthening moves into a Vinyasa flow. Try 5 rounds of Salute to the Sun every morning.

    ADVANCED: Nailed the basic poses? Really develop your callisthenic strength by perfecting advanced poses such as Crow, Crab and The Grass Hopper.

    Celebrating the beauty of dance #invarley #nationaldanceday

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  2. Promotes Better Sleep
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    Promotes Better Sleep

    It’s no secret that you’ll feel relaxed during a yoga class, but certain techniques can be transferred outside of the yoga studio that will help to encourage deeper sleep. Lack of sleep contributes to serious health conditions such as diabetes, as well as lowering mood and motivation, but just 6-8 minutes of ‘yogi breathing’ per day can help to combat these risks. This form of deep, restorative breathing is proven to help release tension and restore your body for a peaceful night’s sleep, meaning your mind and body both have a better chance of optimum performance the following day.

    Supportive Friends @sophie.jaffe + @aeriallynn #invarley

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  3. Teaches you to Practice Mindfulness
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    Teaches you to Practice Mindfulness

    We’ve all been there – mid reverse triangle – when it feels like you’ve been holding the pose for eternity and your thighs really begin to feel the burn (with the yoga teacher showing no signs of relieving you anytime soon) – you lose all your zen, your focus goes out the window and before you know it you’re thinking about it how many minutes are left of the class as you need to get home, put a wash on and make your tea. However, over time, practicing yoga with help you develop mindfulness and teach you to be aware of the uncomfortable sensations, but make a conscious decision not to act upon them. It’s about acknowledging your tired muscles whilst holding that yoga pose, but choosing to bring your mind back to your breath – a skill that once mastered is very easily transferred into your daily stressful life. Bringing your awareness to the present moment, helping combat those ‘what if’ scenarios. And don’t worry – if you’re short for time, just one or two yoga classes can have an instant calming effect, but long term practice will lead to longer term benefits.

    Find balance this weekend #invarley

    A post shared by VARLEY (@varley) on Jul 8, 2017 at 11:28am PDT

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  4. Contributes to Glowing Skin
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    Contributes to Glowing Skin

    Yoga bends your body into positions that it isn’t used to being in (especially if you’re working an office job and spend a large majority of the time sat still at a desk), allowing your blood to freely flow in ways that it normally is restricted in doing. This increased blood and oxygen flow helps the skin eliminate built-up toxins, consequently clearing the pores leaving you with clear, glowing skin. Yoga also helps to reduce stress, which in turn can have a positive impact on formulation of wrinkles, breakouts and dry skin.

    PRO YOGI TIP:

    BEGINNER: Forward fold to relax the body and promote blood flow into the face.

    INTERMEDIATE: Inverting the whole body will improve blood flow to the whole head area as well as the heart. A Shoulder Stand is the perfect pose to promote blood flow, and the additional squeezing on the thyroid gland will help to regulate hormones.

    ADVANCED: Advanced inversions such as Headstands will not only leave your skin glowing, but also help to optimise nutrient flow to the scalp, meaning healthier, thicker and shinier looking hair.

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  5. Helps you Focus
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    Helps you Focus

    Working a 9-5 job can be draining, and very few of us can focus for a full 8 hours without letting our minds wander. Yoga can help combat this by not only helping you stay focused on the task at hand but actually improving your productivity whilst doing it! How? Simply, yoga provides a mental workout as well as a physical one. It’s common knowledge that when you train a particular muscle group it will get stronger, and the same formula works on the mind too: work on focusing your mind wholeheartedly on one task and ultimately your ability to do so will become second nature, meaning improved focus throughout your whole daily life.

    Free your mind this weekend & get a good sweat in. Shop yoga essentials in our story.

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Want to look the part during your next yoga class? Shop the Varley range online now.

 

 



Sarah Atkinson

Sarah Atkinson

Writer and expert


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