Why Should You Practice Yoga?
“Parkites” tend to be a very active group. We have Olympic athletes, regular athletes, weekend-warriors, not-so-regular athletes and the average person all living in and visiting our town. Yoga is for everyone and for every ability. I ask you: Do you want to feel more vitality, move without effort and ease the mental chatter in your mind? If so, then a regular yoga practice is for you. There are too many benefits of yoga to list them all; however, I will touch on some practical reasons that Yoga is being practiced by all ranges of those seeking to increase health, vitality and performance: from elite NFL quarterbacks to the elderly.
- Recovery Time: You can find countless case studies of athletes and regular people who came to a full recovery from injury through yoga practice. Yoga is a growing method for injury recovery widely recommended by physicians. Not only is yoga a great method for recovery, but also helps with post-workout recovery time. After a workout, most individuals often have sore, energy-depleted muscles. Yoga can help move energy through the body and relieve what could have been several days of muscle soreness. All that is usually needed is a few poses and breath work.
- Prevent Injury: Many sports, such as cycling and running, have very repetitive movements usually in one direction and in one plane of motion. These sports can develop certain muscle groups while ignoring others. Over time, this process causes imbalances in the muscles and joints leading to overuse injuries. For instance, tight hamstrings and hip flexors will cause the body to recruit from other joints that are not intended for bearing extra loads. Yoga is an essential counter-action, as it elongates all of the muscles that athletes spend so long contracting.
- Increased Performance: Yoga has been shown to increase flexibility, range of motion, balance, and coordination – all of which greatly translates to decrease the risk of injury in athletes and in our everyday life. Even though we often believe it will never happen to us, the physical and emotional scars from an injury can be significant.
- Endurance: The endurance that yoga generates leads to endurance in sports and basic everyday activities. When you learn to tune into your body and mind, everything can be a meditation; whether you are at home doing the dishes or hiking to the top of a mountain. Yoga also helps you learn how to pace yourself, slow and steady, with breath. Some researchers call this getting into the flow; as such, we can use our body and mind energy more efficiently.
- Balance: Yoga is designed to improve the law of compensation. The law of compensation states that our bodies will default to the path of least resistance when unconscious in our activity. Generally, the path of least resistance is the most flexible and often weakest area in our bodies. Yoga teaches us to become in tune with the body. As a result, we are able to balance the body by placing special attention to symmetry. In aligning our body and stacking our bones, we discover our weaknesses as well as our strengths.
- Body Awareness: Proprioception is the ability to perceive our body internally without our eyes, but with our minds. We can perceive the body in its position in space and the direction and speed of its movement. Through subtle actions addressed throughout a yoga class we gain an understanding of how our body moves in various ways in relation to its parts. Having this keen awareness not only helps with reaction time, but with balance and injury prevention as well.
- Flexibility: Practicing yoga increases flexibility and ease of movement, thus increasing range of motion throughout the whole body. For example, anyone in sports that require swinging action such as tennis and golf can benefit greatly. Yoga improves your range of motion and general mobility. Most of the classical poses in yoga support the same concepts of creating torque, finding a braced neutral spinal position, and always working from core to extremity. Practicing basic yoga poses help reinforce external rotation of the hip and shoulder necessary for many basic human movements. Performing yoga poses consistently helps improve your overall flexibility leading to more mobility and an overall healthier body.