Graceful yet strength-building; low-stress, yet high-impact on your health, yoga has become increasingly popular with women who want to get healthy, as well as experts who tout its benefits.
For women who know they should be exercising more, but feel daunted by visions of strenuous cardio-athletics and complicated choreography, the quieter, lower-intensity option of yoga can offer a more approachable, welcoming pathway to health.
The ancient practice also offers a variety of styles, and speeds to choose from, depending on your preferences and fitness level. From vigorous Ashtanga to more relaxed Hatha, originally created as a prelude to meditation; to spiritual Sivananda, there is a yoga home for you. Additionally, with the wealth of resources, from DVDs to online programs, yoga can be done in the privacy of your home, or in a class, as you choose.
Can you pose your way to health?
For such an unassuming practice, yoga offers abundant body benefits. While the word “fitness” often conjures up visions of pounding aerobics, keeping joints and muscles stretched and flexible is equally important, especially as we exit our thirties. Since in addition to flexing our bodies, many yoga poses require weight-bearing, they can also help build bone and muscle strength, as well as lubricating crucial joint cartilage.
On top of all these many benefits, yoga also helps build health by reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol. While needed for rapid response to true emergencies, our fast-paced, anxiety-ridden modern lifestyle can often have our bodies in fight-or-flight mode whether it’s necessary or not, with dangerous results. Elevated levels of cortisol have been linked to decreased immunity, higher blood pressure, heart disease and weight gain.
According to a study conducted by Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and the Yoga Research Society, subjects whose blood levels were tested after just a fifty-minute session of yoga showed significantly decreased cortisol levels.
Once again, it shows that sometimes a simpler, less high-impact approach can have the most beneficial results for you.