Many wonder, since yoga does not involve running around and sweating like a mad thing, whether it is a suitable form of exercise to fit into a health routine. True; if you want to shed the pounds, you have got to burn calories – but there is more to a healthy lifestyle than being wafer thin. Yoga is a surprising way to reduce stress and induce other physical and psychological benefits. It can even help balance your weight in weird and wonderful ways.


What is yoga?

The ancient science of yoga has been practiced and refined over centuries. Its aim is to unite the mind, body and spirit, and through harmony of mind and body to help the body to heal itself. An individual can become more aware of their alignment, posture and movement patterns. Flexibility and thus mobility and physical function is increased, and the body learns to relax, even in stressful environments. Those who practice yoga do so because it makes them feel fitter, more energetic, happier and calmer. Yoga’s elements of posture (asanas), meditation and breathing (pranayama) combine to induce a host of health and quality of life benefits.

Psychological benefits of yoga

The psychological benefits of yoga are many and varied. Those who practice have seen reductions in anxiety, depression and hostility. Yoga improves concentration, memory, attention and learning efficiency. Mood has also been reported to lift, in addition to a number of self-confidence and social improvements, including increased self-actualization, social adjustment, self-acceptance and social skills. There are also improvements in a number of psychophysical performance parameters, including increased somatic and kinaesthetic awareness, improved depth perception, improved fusion frequency and improved symbol coding.


Physiological benefits of yoga

Yoga works to stabilize, balance and normalize a number of physiological and metabolic functions and processes in the body. Functions which have been shown to normalize and improve include cardiovascular efficiency, respiratory efficiency, autonomic nervous system function, gastrointestinal function, excretion and endocrine function. Blood pressure, respiratory rate and pulse rate all decrease, as does EMG activity. Cholesterol levels improve and blood glucose decreases. Posture, reaction time, dexterity skills, hand-eye coordination, grip strength, joint range of motion, strength and resilience, balance and steadiness have also been shown to increase, as has endurance. Improved quality of sleep, increased immunity and increased energy levels are some of the additional benefits for everyday living. In some cases pain has been shown to decrease.

Benefits of yoga over other forms of exercise

Yoga has a number of benefits over traditional cardiovascular and strength training. There is a very low risk of injury to muscles and ligaments, effort is minimized and it is non-competitive making it more appealing to some groups of exercisers. Most importantly, it energizes rather than tires you out, making it a great way to start the day.

Now that you have decided that yoga is just the sort of exercise that you want to add to your lifestyle, sign yourself up to a class today. If you are looking for some feel-good new clothes to carry out your workout in, join the Yoga Bunny Club with Manuka Life for great savings, exclusive offers and gifts, as well as access to the Yoga Bunny Blog where you can pick up lots of interesting time and share discoveries with other members.

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