While many serious athletes and body builders have discovered the benefits of yoga, others still look down on yoga as not being enough of a physical challenge or being beneficial to their existing workouts. On the contrary, yoga can be incredibly physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging. In addition, it is an excellent cross-training activity that would be a great addition to any athlete's regular routine. There is a huge variety in styles of yoga being offered, so a perfect match can be found for anyone to meet their needs. Listed are a few of the basic benefits of a regular yoga practice.
1. Increased Strength - That's right! Yoga will make you strong. Using your own body as weight resistance repetitavely can be a definate workout. If you are used to standard weight lifting movements, the postures you'll find in a yoga class could really wake up your muscles and create more of a balance in your body. A yoga practice has you moving your body to increase your strength in practical movements that you often perform in your everday life: squatting, reaching, bending, lifting. A strong yoga practice will have you doing these things with more ease. Additionally, if you are already involved in weight training, adding yoga to your routine can help you to prevent common ailments like muscle stifness and stress. Yoga also puts an increased focus on your core muscles, which is hard to find in other forms of exercise. Increased core strength is a major benefit of yoga practice.
2. Increased flexibility - This is the one that people associate most frequently with yoga. An improvement in flexibility can ease muscle tension and improve range of motion. Increased range of motion is helpful in almost all athletic activities from weight training to baseball.
3. Increased focus - Learning yogic breathing (called "pranayama," the most common of which is "ujjayi") can have a positive impact on your performance in other fitness activities. Steady breathing can also ease anxiety and stress. Yoga also teaches you to focus on one point to eliminate distraction, especially in poses that involve balance. This improved concentration can be very beneficial in all aspects of our life.
4. Increased awareness - A lot of time is spent in yoga practice focusing in your body; on your alignment, on how your body is feeling. You spend that time trying to come into and meditate on your body. This body focus follows us into our everyday life when it comes to things like the need for food, rest, and water. It has even been shown that a regular yoga practices can cause weight loss (in those who wish to lose weight) not only as a result of the physical workout, but also due to the increased bodily awareness. You become more conscious of feelings like fullness and stop when your body feels full, when before you maybe wouldn't have.
So, go ahead and pick up a mat and give it a try. Yoga might be the addition to your regular routine that you're looking for!