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Yoga is beginning to be known by health experts as one of the best ways to get physically fit and stay in shape. Every single person can experience some form of yoga. There is everything: from restorative and yin yoga, prenatal yoga to power yoga and vinyasa classes.
What does Fitness really mean?
In general, the term fitness, or being physically fit has a lot to do with your heart health and being able to perform daily activities without getting tired. It also refers to how efficiently your body gets a task done, physically, aerobically and anaerobically. Someone who is considered physically fit can usually handle high-energy activities for longer periods of time. In addition to doing things faster and longer, being physically fit can help prevent or manage a number of different diseases and illnesses.
Things like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity; high cholesterol, depression, anxiety and stress can be managed or controlled by exercise. There are many other benefits to being physically fit like:
- controlling your weight
- strengthening your muscles and bones
- improving your ability to do daily activities
Being physically fit also reduces your risk of different types of cancer as well as cardiovascular diseases. Exercise and yoga specifically has been shown to improve mental health, mood and general well-being. [study1][study2][article1][article2][article3]
What about Yoga?
It should be said that in order for yoga to be used as a fitness workout, it has to be practiced regularly and with a certain level of intensity to get the maximum effects. Classes that are labeled “power” yoga or use the word vinyasa are the classes you want to look for.
Turn it up!
There are even classes, like Baptitse Yoga and Bikram Yoga that are held in hot rooms for even more of a challenging workout. This combination of constant movement, breath and heat help you detoxify your body as you burn calories and fat while building up muscle. A lot of people start using yoga as a supplement to other fitness workouts like crossfit or running or are prescribed it after an injury and find that (depending on what type of yoga) can provide the same physical benefits as other workout practices with even faster results.
Yoga targets the whole body, all the muscle groups and even all the little fibers that connect the muscles. As these muscles build up and get stronger they protect the joints and ligaments, keeping you injury free. The Autonomic (ANS), Sympathetic (SNS) and Parasympathetic (PSNS) Nervous system are all activated during yoga. The ANS controls breathing, the heart, liver, intestines, stomach and digestion. The SNS controls our “flight or fight” response and the PSNS controls the “rest and digest” response in our bodies. At some point during a practice all these systems are activated providing your body with all the chemicals it needs and flushing out the ones you don’t need. This keeps your body in healthy working order.
Some extra goodies
In addition to all the internal benefits, yoga creates a noticeable difference when it comes to physical appearance. Depending on what type of yoga you are practicing, you can burn quite a few calories, turning fat into muscle. It lengthens, strengthens and tones up all the muscles in the body simultaneously, leaving an evenly toned physique.
You should never forget that Yoga is personal and everyone sees different results.
However, yoga will get you to your most healthy weight, whether that is losing, maintaining or even gaining weight through muscle buildup. Yoga knows what your body needs and the more you practice the more you learn about your body.
Power yoga and vinyasa classes involve a lot of twisting and hopefully sweating. The more you twist and sweat the more toxins you release through your skin. This will leave your skin with a healthy glow. As yoga tires you out physically and reduces stress mentally you will sleep better and that will reduce the black circles underneath your eyes.
Yoga also helps your posture. The poses teach you to straighten and stretch your spine and off the mat this will help you sit up straighter and walk with your head held higher, making you appear and feel more confident.
You now know what makes Yoga a kind of fitness practice. Certainly, there are some types of yoga that push you harder and thus represent a stronger kind of fitness. It is also true that no matter the kind of yoga you practice, the mental benefits are almost the same, you will lengthen your muscles, ligaments and other fibers that link them together and to the bones. Thus developing great strength on your joints, a huge benefit for everyone of us as we get older 😉
What’s your take? Do you think yoga is a kind of fitness activity? Does it depend on the type of yoga?
Let us know in the comments!
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