At this point, it seems almost everyone is familiar with the growing exercise trend – yoga. And if you are not part of Australia’s fastest growing fitness activity, you may be wondering if it’s right for you… or what it really is.
When you see people doing yoga, you might think – stretching.
But yoga is so much more than just this.
Yoga is an ancient Hindu system that promotes physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. And, with over 17 major disciplines practiced around the world, yoga gives its participants a lot of variety and specialisation in their practices.
Which Yoga Practice Is Right for Me?
People practice yoga because of the array of benefits it provides. And while each specialisation has its own focus and varied methods, they all produce whole-body wellness perks that are hard to achieve with any other fitness activity alone.
But for someone just starting out, all of those specialisations and customisations can be confusing. Where do you start? Which discipline provides the most benefits?
The yoga discipline you choose should depend on your fitness level, familiarity with yoga poses, and your overall wellness goals.
For yoga newbies, the most common practice is Hatha Yoga.
What Is Hatha Yoga?
Hatha refers to a set of yoga postures that are designed to align the body. Physically, they promote alignment of the skin, muscles, and bones. Spiritually, these postures encourage a balanced energy flow through the body by opening up channels through the spine. Many people refer to this balanced energy flow as the “sun and the moon.”
While not always gentle, Hatha Yoga is also known for its slower pace. This slower pace gives yoga beginners a chance to learn the poses, keep up with instructions, and condition their bodies to the physicals dynamics of a yoga practice.
So, why should you practice Hatha Yoga? We’ve listed the five main health and wellness perks below:
1) Promotes Complete Wellness
Most fitness regimens promise increased health and higher fitness levels. However, few of them can claim to promote total body wellness that includes mental and spiritual health.
Hatha Yoga does!
According to a study by Preventative Cardiology, those who attend at least two Hatha Yoga classes per week over eight weeks enjoy increased oxygen flow and muscular strength. They also benefit from higher levels of endurance and joint mobility.
Additionally, Hatha Yoga helps relieve stress and the physical side effects of stress, like muscle tension, strain and inflammation, and a weakened immune system.
And because Hatha Yoga helps calm the nervous system, it can also help sharpen your attention span and concentration.
2) Improves Flexibility
While yoga isn’t just about stretching, it certainly contains an array of stretching poses. Hatha Yoga is known for its slow, methodical poses and stretching that help lengthen muscles and connective tissues around joints and bones – improving flexibility.
And why is flexibility important anyway?
Even if you are not planning on becoming a gymnast or ballerina, flexibility is important because it decreases your overall risk of injury throughout life.
And staying injury-free is always a win!
3) Improves Balance
Balance and flexibility go hand in hand in preventing injuries.
Studies show that continued Hatha Yoga practice serves to help improve overall body awareness and posture. It does this by toning the spine. Better balance is a natural byproduct of increased body awareness and improved posture due to a stronger spine.
So, Hatha Yoga is a sure fire way to help you decrease your clumsy and increase your balance!
4) Helps with Cravings
If we are not careful, bad habits can consume us. Smoking, overeating, oversleeping – all of these things may satisfy our cravings. But what causes cravings? Usually, the culprit is an accompanying physical condition, like stress or body toxins.
One of the more powerful aspects of Hatha Yoga is that it works to decrease the conditions that cause cravings. It does this by reducing stress and increasing mindfulness.
Mindfulness occurs when you achieve full awareness of your physical, mental and emotional states. Mindfulness also fosters an appreciation for your surroundings and an understanding of the things that contribute to how you feel.
Achieving mindfulness is a key component of Hatha Yoga and helps create a mental, spiritual, and emotional state that defeats unhealthy cravings.
5) Builds Bone Density
As we age, many of us don’t think about the growing risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis, or the fragility of bones due to loss of tissue, becomes more common with age. Unfortunately, this condition often has no symptoms and the people affected don’t know they have it until after they fracture a bone.
The good news is that Hatha Yoga also helps increase bone density, thus helping prevent/reduce the effects of osteoporosis.
A recent study shows that performing certain Hatha Yoga poses over a long period can significantly increase bone density in the spine and femurs. The study also showed improvements in hip density.
As you can see, Hatha Yoga provides an array of health benefits that can span your lifetime and increase your quality of living. If you are not already involved in a yoga practice, consider taking up Hatha Yoga to enjoy the whole-body wellness benefits it can provide.