Yoga practice and its Benefits Beyond the Mat - Uni Yoga Dublin

Yoga practice and its Benefits Beyond the Mat

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Yoga practice and its Benefits Beyond the Mat

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Are you new to yoga, or beginner and want to know more about yoga practice?

Yoga, an ancient practice and meditation, has become increasingly popular in today’s busy society. For many people, yoga provides a retreat from their chaotic and busy lives. This is true whether you’re practising downward facing dog posture on a mat in your bedroom, in an ashram in India or even in New York City’s Times Square. Yoga provides many other mental and physical benefits. Some of these extend to the kitchen table.

The practise of yoga over the millennium 

There are many types of yoga. Hatha (a combination of many styles) is one of the most popular styles. It is a more physical type of yoga rather than a still, meditative form. Hatha yoga focuses on pranayamas (breath-controlled exercises). These are followed by a series of asanas (yoga postures), which end with savasana (a resting period).

The goal during yoga practise is to challenge yourself physically, but not to feel overwhelmed. At this “edge,” the focus is on your breath while your mind is accepting and calm.

Cardiovascular Benefits

Several small studies have found yoga to have a positive effect on cardiovascular risk factors: It helped lower blood pressure in people who have hypertension. It’s likely that the yoga restores “baroreceptor sensitivity.” This helps the body senses imbalances in blood pressure and maintain balance.

Another study found that practising yoga improved lipid profiles in healthy patients as well as patients with known coronary artery disease. It also lowered excessive blood sugar levels in people with non-insulin dependent diabetes and reduced their need for medications. Yoga is now being included in many cardiac rehabilitation programs due to its cardiovascular and stress-relieving benefits.

Before you start a new exercise program, be sure to check with your doctor.

Researchers are also studying if yoga can help people with depression and arthritis, and improve survival from cancer.

Self-awareness

Yoga develops inner awareness. It focuses your attention on your body’s abilities at the present moment. It helps develop breath and strength of mind and body. It’s not about physical appearance.

Yoga studios typically don’t have mirrors. This is so people can focus their awareness inward rather than how a pose — or the people around them — looks. Surveys have found that those who practised yoga were more aware of their bodies than people who didn’t practice yoga. They were also more satisfied with and less critical of their bodies. For these reasons, yoga has become an integral part in the treatment of eating disorders and programs that promote positive body image and self-esteem.

Becoming a Mindful Eater

Mindfulness refers to focusing your attention on what you are experiencing in the present moment without judging yourself.

Practising yoga has been shown to increase mindfulness not just in class, but in other areas of a person’s life.

Researchers describe mindful eating as a nonjudgmental awareness of the physical and emotional sensations associated with eating. They developed a questionnaire to measure mindful eating using these behaviours:

  • Eating even when full (disinhibition)
  • Being aware of how the food looks, tastes and smells
  • Eating in response to environmental cues, such as the sight or smell of food
  • Eating when sad or stressed (emotional eating)
  • Eating when distracted by other things

The researchers found that people who practised yoga were more mindful eaters according to their scores. Both years of yoga practice and the number of minutes of practice per week were associated with better mindful eating scores. Practising yoga helps you be more aware of how your body feels. This heightened awareness can carry over to mealtime as you savour each bite or sip, and note how food smells, tastes and feels in your mouth.

Enhancing Fitness

Yoga is known for its ability to soothe tension and anxiety in the mind and body. But it can also have an impact on a person’s exercise capacity.

Researchers studied a small group of sedentary individuals who had not practised yoga before. After eight weeks of practising yoga at least twice a week for a total of 180 minutes, participants had greater muscle strength and endurance, flexibility and cardio-respiratory fitness.

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