Yoga has gone from an ancient meditative practice to a world wide phenomenon, and there isn’t one place in the world where you won’t find at least one form of Yoga being practiced. Yoga has now evolved to become part of fitness, and is taught in gyms all around the country.
Yoga uses a combination of postures, breathing exercises, and meditation to reduce stress and induce relaxation. But it can also give you tons of additional benefits. Let’s take a look at why starting yoga could be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made in your life.
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You’ll Become a Calorie Burning Furnace
One of the great things about yoga is how many calories you could end up burning not only during sessions, but well after. This is because yoga is said to stimulate your metabolism, which influences the rate at which your body consumes calories in a resting state.
But, how many calories does yoga burn exactly? Well, it depends on many factors. But it is said that a person weighing around 150 pounds could burn as much as 200 calories in an hour of yoga. The heavier you are, the more energy you will exert, and the more you will burn.
The type of yoga you perform will also make a difference. If you do hot yoga, for instance, you could end up burning as much as 700 calories in a one hour session. This is because heat and humidity is increased, which pushes your body to sweat. Other versions of yoga, such as ashtanga yoga for instance, will also allow you to burn more energy. A one hour session of ashtanga yoga could allow to burn as much as 300 calories per hour.
But, you have to be careful when using a yoga technique. Ashtanga yoga is much more fast paced than traditional yoga, and involves more intense breathing techniques; which is why it burns more calories. However, this is not a form of yoga that is recommended for beginners. Hot yoga, on the other hand, could be difficult for you if you don’t have the conditioning needed. So, it’s always wise to take your skill level into consideration, and make sure that you speak with a physician to make sure that one method is safe for you.
Increased Overall Fitness
Yoga does a lot more than just allow you to burn extra pounds. It’s also a great tool if you want to improve your general fitness.
Tight hamstrings can have detrimental effects on the lower spine by flattening it, and is a common reason for back pain issues. Tight hips can cause pain in the knees by causing the shin bones and thighs to be misaligned.
Yoga is great if you want to build flexibility, endurance, but also strength. Several body poses in yoga promote strength building using nothing but your actual body’s weight.
Great for Stress Relief
Yoga has always been touted as a way to relieve stress. But there’s actual scientific evidence behind it. As a matter of fact, there are several studies that show that yoga could help reduce the amount of cortisol in the body, the stress hormone.
One study in particular showed that a group of 24 women were able to significantly lower their level of cortisol by practicing yoga. The women went on a 3 month yoga program, and did not only report less stress hormones levels in their body, but also felt like they were feeling less anxious, depressed and stressed. They also felt more energetic.
Another study conducted on 131 participants had the same results. The group had to go through an extensive 10 week program and reported less stress and anxiety symptoms. It also helped improve the participants’ mental health and quality of life.
It Changes Your Brain’s Chemistry
One of the reasons why yoga could be so powerful against anxiety and other mental issues is because of it’s profoundly transformative effect on the brain. Yoga is deeply meditative in nature, and research has shown that regular meditation stimulated areas of the brain that are associated with emotional resilience and positivity. This then allows practitioners to be less reactive during periods of stress.
Exercise has been shown to have mood lifting properties, and one of the reasons for that is that it releases GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain. According to one study by Boston University, yoga has been found to be particularly efficient at producing GABA. As a matter of fact, they found that it was able to produce as much as two times more GABA than walking.
And this could be amplified if you follow classes that have some sort of spiritual component. Some classes will introduce things such as how to express and explore gratitude, forgiveness, and empathy. All of these concepts are directly related to our well being and happiness.
It Could Reduce Inflammation
Yoga can not only help you shed some pounds, and relieve stress and anxiety, but could also help reduce inflammation. Inflammation is an immune disorder, but could degenerate into other issues such as diabetes and arthritis when it becomes chronic.
In one study that was conducted in 2015 on 218 participants, people were separated into 2 different groups. One was made up of people who regularly practiced yoga, and the other one from people who didn’t. They were then asked to perform a series of physically stressing exercises. Those who practiced yoga regularly consistently had lower inflammation than the other group. Another study found that yoga was beneficial in reducing inflammation in a group of breast cancer patients dealing with chronic fatigue.
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Yoga is one of the best exercises if you want to burn fat, build muscle endurance and strength, and improve your cardiovascular performance. It’s also a great way to make friends, challenge yourself, and a natural antidepressant. So, make sure that you look at everything yoga has to offer, and check out a few trial classes to see if it’s something you could incorporate into your fitness routine.