All these new restrictions have put strains on people’s careers, livelihoods, families, and relationships, all of which has caused an increase in rates of stress and anxiety nationwide. The next step is to ask how to cope. One of the best ways to decrease stress and anxiety levels is to think less. The process of thought is one of suffering since it is often worrying about that which you cannot change. People tend to do this through distractions, namely physical activity, hence sports. The problem with many sports is that they require specialized equipment and a large open space which are things that are in short supply nowadays. The second problem is that it demands a lot out of a person physically and for someone just getting into exercise, taking a leap into an intensive sport too quickly may do more harm than good. That is why many have been in recent years flocking to yoga.
The Benefits of Yoga
Besides the straightforward benefit of improving your balance and flexibility, yoga offers a whole host of health benefits.
Reduced Levels of Stress and Anxiety: Studies in the National Centre of Biotechnology Information have proved this and this is linked to exercise’s remarkable ability to influence the human body. This is because it results in the decreased secretion of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone and in a controlled study group after a three-month yoga program, participants reported significantly lower rates of stress, anxiety, fatigue and even depression.
Another study was also carried out on women who were suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and found that after ten weeks of practicing only once a week, 52% of the participants no longer met the criteria for PTSD at all!
While these are some benefits that an individual may feel right off the bat, there are many more on the physical side. The mind and body are always connected and a positive change in your mind may very well affect your body’s condition. This decrease in stress and anxiety has also been linked to reduced inflammation. This reduced inflammation may also be a symptom of something else that yoga can be thanked for.
Improved Cardiovascular Health: The heart is the lifeblood of the body and a healthy cardiovascular system is one of the foundations of a healthy organism. High blood pressure is linked to numerous types of heart disease such as diabetes, heart attack and stroke which are the 2nd leading cause of death annually nationwide. A study of 113 yoga participants with heart disease showed a 23% reduction in their cholesterol levels and 47% of patients experiencing the progression of their heart disease stop.
Improved Sleep: A final and extremely pervasive problem that yoga helps tackle is insomnia. Insomnia and poor sleep quality in general has been linked to aforementioned factors such as stress, anxiety, and high blood pressure. Yoga exercise has also been shown to increase the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the body’s sleep and wakefulness cycle. Participants on average reported falling asleep faster, sleeping longer hours and most importantly, feeling more well-rested in the morning.
Getting Ready - What You’ll Need
Let’s say you’re convinced; you have never tried yoga before or haven’t done it in a while but you’re determined to start now. What toolkit will you need to work with before you go out on your adventure into the world of connecting with your inner chakras?
In all honesty, yoga, founded in northern India nearly 5000 years ago and for thousands of years has been practiced with nothing except the participation of your body, mind and spirit. In the modern day, however, people tend to tweak tradition and have some things available in their toolset.
- Yoga Mats: Yoga mats can be seen everywhere in yoga sessions and finding the right material and size for you is important. With the restriction of living in homes of wood, cement, and brick, it’s hard to find a comfortable place to lie down on the ground and stretch. Make sure when purchasing a yoga mat that the material has a textured grip which reduces friction and prevents your hands and feet from slipping while in poses.
- Mat Towel: The textured grip featured in yoga mats is helpful up until a certain point. If you’re the type of person that tends to sweat often, you may find your mat losing traction because of your sweat. In that access, make sure to have a towel on hand to wipe down your mat every so often. Slipping can result in injury so keeping yourself safe should be priority number one.
- Loose and Breathing Clothing: As with any form of exercise, you want your clothes to give you the greatest freedom of movement as well as allowing air to circulate around your whole body to prevent you from overheating. That’s why we assume you’re not going to our yoga session in jeans and a suit. Try a tank top and shorts or specially made yoga leggings.
Pilates Balls - Why Do I Need Them?
They pop up everywhere in the media associated with yoga but at first glance they seem quite strange. They look more like a children’s plaything rather than something to exercise with. However, just as with many other things, looks can be deceiving. The large Pilates balls you have seen are actually only one type of Pilates ball called a physio ball. These are generally used for sitting or lying on and can help you find proper posture, increase your abdominal and back muscle strength as well as increasing your lower back mobility.
A smaller set of Pilates balls called Triadballs are generally 20 to 30cm long and are used more often for core and lower body workouts. They can be positioned underneath your lower back, in between your thighs or on top of your abs, anywhere that best suits that particular exercise. Additionally, there is a wide range of Pilates balls that range in size down from the physio ball to Franklin balls which are small enough to fit in your hand and are used for wrist and forearm exercises.
The possibilities are endless with you at the helm of your yoga adventure. Pilates balls of all sizes offer various takes on traditional exercises for strengthening the various parts of the body. These can be used to enhance your yoga experience and be your path towards a happier, healthier, and more active lifestyle. If you’re interested in purchasing high-quality, affordable yoga equipment, visit https://www.fitnessavenue.ca/zyg/yoga-pilates for more info today!