Yoga has become an increasingly popular form of exercise in the United States. Whether yoga’s recent rise in popularity stems from an increase in stress levels or just a fashionable trend, yoga delivers many benefits to those who incorporate it into their everyday lives.  

While there are different types, or schools, of yoga, most sessions are typically comprised of breathing exercises, meditation, and assuming postures (sometimes called asana or poses) that stretch and flex various muscle groups.

The relaxation techniques incorporated in yoga can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome. Yoga can also lower blood pressure and reduce insomnia.

There are several other physical benefits of yoga including:

  • Increased flexibility
  • Increased muscle strength and tone
  • Improved respiration, energy and vitality
  • The maintenance of a balanced metabolism
  • Weight reduction
  • Cardio and circulatory health
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Protection from injury

 

Aside from the array of physical benefits, one of the best benefits of yoga is how it helps a person manage stress, which has been known to have devastating effects on the body and mind. Stress can reveal itself in many ways, including back or neck pain, sleeping problems, headaches, and an inability to concentrate. Practicing yoga can be very effective in reducing stress in our lives.

Unlike more traditional forms of exercise, yoga’s incorporation of meditation and breathing help improve your mental well-being. Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness; increases body awareness; relieves chronic stress patterns; relaxes the mind; centers attention; and sharpens concentration.

Because there are so many different kinds of yoga practices, it is possible for anyone to start. Whether you’re a couch potato or a professional athlete, size and fitness levels do not matter because there are modifications for every yoga pose and beginner classes in every style.

Yoga can be practiced to enhance overall health, to improve balance, to heal and prevent injuries, to strengthen muscles and to open the body for meditation. Yoga's increasing popularity is proof that many people value an exercise system that engages the mind, body and spirit in equal measure. If you've never done yoga before, give it a try and see what it can do for you.  

Dyanne Singler is the owner of MOMENTUM yoga & fitness in Morehead City. MOMENTUM offers yoga and Spinning classes for all levels and abilities. She is a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer, Certified Spinning® Instructor and Registered Yoga Teacher. MOMENTUM yoga & fitness is located at 2900 Arendell Street, #16. (252) 247-9642 www.MomentumFitnessNC.com