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News | The health benefits of yoga

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Yoga has become all the rage these days, with everyone from celebrities to big and burly rugby players doing their daily downward dog. But unlike so many fitness fads, yoga has been around for centuries and the benefits of regular yoga practice are well documented.

There are different kinds of yoga these days with funny names like Bikram, Iyengar, Kundalini and Forrest, which has nothing to do with trees. Here’s a look at some of the health bene- fits of getting a daily dose of ohhhhmmmm.

Builds strength
Don’t mistake bulk for strength – strong muscles don’t necessarily look like those giant bulging biceps you see at the gym. While yoga gives you a super strong core, it doesn’t just focus on one muscle group, it focuses on ALL your muscles, especially the smaller muscles that support the bigger ones. These guys are often overlooked, but they’re very important to making the bigger muscles perform better and reduce the risk of injury.

Better balance
As mentioned before, the nature of most yoga poses require your core to really pull its weight. But there’s a reason it’s ‘core’ muscles, because they are some of the most important muscles in your body and affect everything from your posture to overall muscles structure, even coordination, especially when you’re playing sports.

Bendy body
Often when we think of yogis we picture people scratching their ears with their toes while wrapping their arms inside out. While this is a bit extreme (yet totally possible with years of practice), practicing yoga stretches your muscles and makes both your muscles and your joints more flexible. Experts believe that flexible muscles and joints are less prone to injury, because their suppleness helps them adapt easier and quicker.

It’s mental
Pretty much everything in yoga revolves around balance, and there’s a big focus on creating a balance between mind, body and spirit (in whatever form) which results in become more aware and in control of your body. Meditation forms part of most types of yoga and it has been shown that meditation is great for our mental health. However, the mental benefits gained from doing yoga doesn’t just end with breathing exercises and a bit of chanting, the fact that most poses require a certain level of focus builds mental agility, some- thing that affects many aspects of our lives.

Healthy highs
What people often don’t realise if how physically strenuous yoga can be, it’s not just sitting around chanting ohm, it’s a real, full-body workout. Because of this, you also benefit from a boost of endorphins, those feel-good hormones that get released when we exercise. It also goes without saying that yoga can help with weight loss, as well as weight control, because not only is it a workout of note, the heightened awareness to your body and what it needs will make you reach for the good stuff when you’re feeling a little peckish.

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