[Image source: Yoga By Me]
The practice of yoga can be traced back to 5,000 years ago and potentially even double that time. The distinct difference of yoga, to almost every other form of exercise, is its unique blend of physical, mental and spiritual components. These components can be further broken down. Fitness for example, can be broken down into the 3 S’s - strength, stamina and suppleness. Yoga includes all 3 of these fitness components.
I came across an article recently based on the self-talk people use when they talk about exercise. It stated that when you hear people talk about yoga for example, they often refer to it as a practice. You often hear yogi’s say, “I’m going to my yoga practice” or “I practice yoga”. However, when you hear people talk about other forms of group fitness, they refer to it as something they just do or need to do. You often hear them say, “I’m going to my boot camp class” or “I do boot camp”.
The language you use—internally and externally—has a huge impact on your relationship with exercise. It influences how you engage with exercise and your ongoing motivation. Implying that exercise is something that needs to be ‘done’ doesn’t really inspire feelings of joy and in the long run can develop into feelings of dread. On the other hand, framing exercise as something that is a practice develops an intrinsic motivation to improve. You never really achieve an end point and the process becomes the inspiration.
Why Yoga Should be Your New Year’s Fitness Resolution
- Improves a range a health measures
From a physical point of view, yoga develops strength through bodyweight movements, stamina through ongoing movement and suppleness through moving your body in multiple planes through its full range of movement.
- Creates a long, lean body
Your muscles, tendons, ligaments and nervous system adapt. This is an evolutionary trait to adapt to the environment and for survival. As you’re constantly lengthening in most yoga moves, your muscles become strong throughout their entire range and not just in single planes or one position.
- Has a calming and relaxing effect
There are many psychological benefits of yoga. Feeling calm and relaxed is one of them. There are many different types of classes to choose from. Some are designed to be more relaxed and meditative, while some are designed to be more intense and challenging. Even the most challenging classes though, will leave you feeling calm and relaxed at the end.
- You learn how to move correctly
One of my pet hates when I see people work out in a group class, or even worse with a personal trainer, is to see them moving incorrectly. Practicing poor movement patterns strengthens those patterns, leading to increased risk for injury. Yoga teaches you how to move efficiently and effectively through all ranges of movement.
- You develop your muscles evenly
By learning how to move correctly, you develop your smaller stabilising muscles. These muscles are the foundation for your bigger muscles and allow them to do the heavy lifting they’re designed to do. By performing exercises incorrectly, your bigger muscles take over, getting bigger, while your smaller muscles allow them to do this and ultimately get smaller. This creates an imbalance, which ultimately enhances your risk for injury.
Yoga is a great all-round workout. Not only does it develop all aspects of physical fitness, it also improves your mental health and emotional state. It is a workout that anyone can do from the earliest beginner to the most elite athlete.
What kind of self-talk do you use to talk about your exercise?
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