No yoga experience necessary, you don’t have to be able to bend like a pretzel to do yoga. Suitable for all body types, yoga can start at any age regardless of physical condition. Runners, cyclist, athletes or anyone wanting a healthier mind and body connection have a lot to benefit from adding yoga into their lives.
Compulsive thinkers looking to ease the mental noise present in their mind can achieve inner calm through the practice of yoga, beginning the journey to inner peace and happiness. Sports like running and cycling tend to lead to injury and tightness due to their repetitive nature and high intensity, resulting in musculoskeletal imbalances. Yoga can offer assistance in restoring balance and symmetry to the body, and allow you to deal with specific issues, such as improving flexibility or helping with an injury.
Training the same muscle groups in repetitive patterns often imbalances the body, causing the muscles to tire and tighten. Over time these muscles lose their elasticity and in turn power, hindering the ability for our muscles to develop to their full potential. Participating in a balanced yoga practice not only reduces many nagging aches and pains, but can also energise the body, help to prevent and avoid injury and improve breathing.
Yoga stretches the muscles, which in turn increases the range of motion in related joints. Increased flexibility decreases stiffness and results in greater ease of movement.
Yoga strengthens both the key supporting muscles used in our sport and the underused muscles. The asanas (poses) in yoga develop strength in the core, quads, hamstrings, calves and hip flexors which will help athletes to stay injury free.
Overusing some muscles while underusing others creates muscular imbalances, which affect the entire musculoskeletal balance and impairs biomechanics efficiency. These imbalances can eventually lead to pain and injury. Every asana is a balance of stability and mobility. At no time is only one muscle group used.
Breathing - Pranayama
Yogic breathing involves slow, deep inhalations and long exhalations, making use of the upper, middle, and lower portions of the lungs. Yogic breathing increases lung capacity, and greater lung capacity increases endurance and improves athletic performance.
The guiding principle behind Pranayama is that we all hold physical or emotional blocks in our bodies which inhibit the flow of breath and of prana - life energy. This can leave us feeling unwell and blocked physically and emotionally. By practising Pranayama and asana we are clearing these blocks so breath and prana can flow freely, our bodies can then function properly and our minds can become calmer and clearer.
Benefits of yoga
Yoga provides a workout that includes every muscle and all the joints, as well as using all muscle groups, including the small muscles in the hands and toes, the large muscles of the legs and torso, the superficial muscles such as the calves and hamstrings, and the deeply layered muscles that are not visible.
Many forms of exercise deplete the body of its energy stores. Yet a yoga practice oxygenates the blood and creates more energy, leaving the body and mind feeling restored and energised. It also supports us in recovering from the physical demands we place on our bodies.
Yoga ‘s potential for improving and transforming our lives comes from regular practice over time. Each time we step onto the mat it gives us another opportunity to learn more about the asanas, breathing techniques and how to balance effort and ease.