Yoga: naturally good for your body and mind
Do you know your downward-facing dog from your warrior? Or your lotus position from your mountain pose? Whether you do, or you don’t, it seems like plenty of us are talking about them as a study by Lancaster University and Cambridge University Press showed that ‘yoga’ was among the top fifteen most popular words in the British society*.
But yoga isn’t a recent craze; it’s actually a tradition that dates back thousands of years. We take a little look into why the ancient practice is a naturally good way to stay fit and healthy and discuss the latest yoga trends.
How beneficial is yoga?
The first and most well-known benefit of yoga is its ability to improve flexibility. The more you practice yoga, the more muscles and connective tissue surrounding your bones and joints are gradually loosened. This is thought to be the main reason that yoga is associated with reduced aches and pains. Practicing yoga also helps you build muscle mass and/or maintain muscle strength, which protects from conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis and back pain.
In addition, yoga increases blood flow and levels of haemoglobin and red blood cells which allows for more oxygen to reach the body’s cells. Yoga also helps thin the blood, which can decrease the risk of illnesses caused by blood clots, including heart attack and stroke.
Yoga can also reduce stress, depression and anxiety, as well as improve sleep thanks to its impact on hormones cortisol and melatonin.
What are the latest yoga trends?
There are many different forms of yoga and while they all build on the same principles and aim for the same relaxed result, they can feel like a very different experience. Three of the more recent trends in yoga include aerial, restorative and hot.
Originating in California, aerial yoga combines traditional yoga poses, pilates and dance with the use of a hammock. Made out of special, high-density nylon material that can support over 2,000lbs, the hammocks are held up by carabineers, support chains and webbing straps and are used to support you in poses. Aerial yoga offers the same benefits as traditional yoga but also great flexibility and better focus.
As opposed to the higher intensity of aerial yoga, restorative yoga is all about slowing down and opening your body through passive stretching. It involves longer holds that allow your muscles to relax deeply through the use of props to support your body. The chilled feel of a restorative yoga class is ideal for reducing stress. If you’re thinking about heading to a restorative yoga class, be prepared for deep relaxation. The teacher may even dim the lights and play some lovely, soft music.
Hot yoga has seen a rise in popularity in recent years. Practiced in a hot and humid room, it is great for improved fitness and weight loss as it speeds up your heart rate, doubling up as a cardio workout too. The hot conditions lead to improved flexibility as your muscles will soften and release faster, and detoxification as the profuse sweating will flush out toxins in your body. If attending hot yoga, it’s important to remember to drink plenty as you will sweat a lot, ease yourself into the classes and of course if the heat becomes too much, leave the room.
Looking for something light and nourishing before a yoga session? Why not try our deliciously healthy Kale and Kiwi Smoothie?
Yoga isn’t a recent craze; it’s actually a tradition that dates back thousands of years. We take a little look into why the ancient practice is a naturally good way to stay fit and healthy.