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Yoga can transform your body at any age! And, although almost everyone knows about the mental and emotional benefits of this meditative practice, yoga offers so much more! What you may not be aware of is that yoga can change your body, prevent injury and disease, and can even help you recover faster.
Studies have found that achieving your health goals is about 80% dependent upon what you eat and 20% dependent on your fitness routine. So, focusing on diet without exercise will only get you so far. Therefore, finding the right lifestyle balance is vital to sustained health and fitness.
Yoga is a wonderful way to transform your body because it encompasses both a dedicated fitness program and inspires healthy changes! So, when you start practicing yoga, you’ll soon realize that yoga is a lifestyle. And, this is a surefire way to get the biggest payoff from your efforts! Yoga can transform your body and have you glowing from the inside out in no time!
9 Main Styles of Yoga
From Hatha, to Bikram, to Vinyasa, all yoga styles have their own unique characteristics. And, admittedly, it can get a bit confusing. So, let’s break it down.
This style of yoga is based on the belief that we all are all intrinsically good. Anusara encourages students to integrate body-mind with heart and spirit and deeply connect with themselves.
The physical postures are centered around the Universal Principles of Alignment. So, students strengthen the body while also learning to appreciate their intrinsic goodness and the goodness of others.
2. Hatha Yoga.
Hatha yoga is commonly practiced in the West. And, it’s what people generally think of as yoga. It’s a series of postures that help you loosen your muscles. In turn, it will leave you feeling calm and centered.
Hatha yoga combines a series of basic movements with breathing. And, through the practice of asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises) you are ultimately preparing the body for meditation. You can expect to attain physical strength, physiological health, and emotional well-being.
This style of yoga consists of a series of poses that flow smoothly from one into another. Vinyasa classes offer a variety of postures and no two classes are ever alike. And, it’s different from other styles of yoga, like Bikram or Ashtanga Yoga, which feature the same set of ordered postures in every class.
4. Power Yoga
Power yoga is a high intensity practice that builds muscle. Some consider consider power yoga to be superficial gym-like style of yoga practice. However, its closely modelled on the Ashtanga method.
Benefits of a power yoga class include increased stamina, strength, and flexibility, as well as stress relief. Teachers create their own sequences, and students focus on synchronizing their breath with the poses.
Ashtanga yoga describes a series of specific postures combined with a breathing technique. In that way, it’s comparable to vinyasa yoga. And, similar to Bikram yoga, the exact same postures are performed in a particular sequence.
But, when you walk into class, be prepared to sweat! This is a physically demanding style of yoga, so make sure to bring your well-designed yoga mat and towel!
Also known as “hot yoga,” Bikram yoga is a set of 26 challenging poses performed in a room heated to a high temperature. In your Bikram class, you will sweat like never before. So, again, be sure to bring a quality yoga mat and towel.
Similar to Ashtanga, a Bikram class always follows the same sequence of postures (although the Bikram sequence is not the same as the Ashtanga). This is a highly challenging class, especially due to the pretty extreme heat. But, remember, you can always modify any pose and work at your own particular fitness level.
Iyengar can be described as a meticulous style of yoga with focused attention on finding the proper alignment in a posture. And, in order to help each student find the correct alignment, an Iyengar studio offers a wide array of yoga props. This includes blankets, chairs, bolsters, and blocks.
Restorative yoga classes, commonly described as yin yoga, also use yoga props, like blocks, to get students into passive poses so the body can experience the pose, and its benefits, without having to exert any effort. And, this can be a great way to come back into your practice after an injury.
9. Kundalini Yoga
The first time I practiced Kundalini yoga, I was in my 20’s and living in Los Angeles. And, boy, did it have a major effect on me! I still rely on the breathing techniques I learned in my very first class to handle stress and anxiety.
But, don’t worry, you can still expect to get into your best plank or downward dog. However, this style of yoga focuses on using your breath to harness the energy within you. Through meditation, chanting, and singing, Kundalini yoga promotes stillness and self-awareness.
5 Ways That Yoga Can Transform Your Body
1. Yoga Strengthens Your Muscles
Are you watching your diet, going for walks, or hitting the elliptical machine, but not getting the results you desire? Have you been wondering why what worked in the past is not as effective now?
There’s most likely a simple reason for this. You’re probably not doing enough strength training! Toned muscles are a byproduct of strength-training. And, strength training builds muscle mass.
Unfortunately, lean muscle mass naturally decreases as we age. In other words, if you don’t use it, you lose it! But, practicing yoga can transform your body by toning and strengthening your muscles.
- develops strong bones
- gives your metabolism a boost
- helps you manage pain
- prevents weight gain
- lowers blood pressure
Beginner Poses to Build Muscle
- Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
- Forearm Plank (Phalakasana)
- Boat Pose (Paripurna Navasana)
2. Yoga Increases Flexibility
Flexibility becomes increasingly important as we get older. That’s because our bodies stiffen which results in aches and pains, injury, and fatigue. According to research, “At least half of the age-related changes to muscles, bones and joints are caused by disuse.”
Yoga is a complete mind-body workout. It combines stretching with breathing, and therefore, makes you more flexible. And, besides keeping you limber, it helps you release tension trapped in your body and your mind.
Regular yoga practice increases flexibility because yoga focuses heavily on muscle elasticity. And, stretching your muscles helps you to stay healthy and prevents injury. In addition, better flexibility improves movement, but also promotes blood circulation, lowers your risk of arthritis, stroke, and heart disease.
- stimulates the nervous system
- improves blood circulation
- helps lessen stress and fatigue
- relieves backaches
Beginner Poses to Increase Flexibility
- Half Pigeon Pose (Beginner Poses to Build Muscle)
- Child’s Pose (Balasana)
- Extended Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)
3. Yoga Prevents Injury
Injury can occur when muscle tension negatively impacts your range of motion. That’s because tightness in your muscles or joints is a common cause of chronic injury.
In addition, if you start to favor one side of your body due to an injury, you may be putting added pressure on the muscles and joints on the favored side. So, this is another easy way to injure yourself.
And, there is always that slight risk of injury when you’re active, especially as you get older.
Some common injuries are:
- Hip pain
- Muscle pulls
- Sprained ankle
- Shoulder injury
- Knee injury
- Shin splints
- Neck strain
- Low back strain
- Plantar fasciitis
However, yoga has been shown to increase joint range of motion while elongating muscles. And, as restrictions in muscle or joint tissue are a common cause of chronic injury, yoga can help prevent pulls, sprains, or fractures. Yoga can be beneficial to your recovery as well.
For instance, a January 2107 study on yoga treatment for chronic non‐specific low back pain found that many people are proactively practicing yoga to improve back pain. And, there was evidence to suggest that “there was low‐certainty evidence that yoga produced small to moderate improvements in back‐related function at three to four months.”
At its core, yoga changes the way you approach everything in life. So, instead of forcing things, you will learn to move with ease. And, this in itself will prevent injuries and increase overall flexibility.
- elongates muscles
- eliminates pain, stiffness, limited range
- strengthens weak abdominals to support low back
- develops strong ankles and flexible toes
- maintains flexible neck muscles
- improves balance
Beginner Poses to Prevent Injury
- Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
- Rabbit (Sasangasana)
- Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
4. Yoga Prevents Weight Gain
I’ve been an avid runner since I can remember. And, when yoga first showed up on my radar, I was reluctant to exchange a good run for yoga class. I wanted to get the highest caloric burn from my activity, and tone and strengthen at the same time. But, I was hesitant to believe that yoga would afford me those same results.
However, after an injury, I began to view yoga differently. I was forced to hang up my running sneakers and heal my body. And, during that time, my yoga practice was instrumental in changing my lifestyle in ways that running never could!
And, you can get a kick butt workout at yoga, depending on which style you choose. But, the greater advantage is that you will naturally begin to make healthy lifestyle choices. So, because of this, not only does yoga transform your body, but it has a powerful impact on your well-being.
Beth A. Lewis, Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota School of Kinesiology in Minneapolis sums it up perfectly. “Many yoga practices burn fewer calories than traditional exercise (jogging, brisk walking); however, yoga can increase one’s mindfulness and the way one relates to their body. So, individuals will become more aware of what they are eating and make better food choices.”
- detoxifies organs
- releases endorphins to improve mood
- regulates metabolic rate
Beginner Poses to Lose Weight
- Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
- Warrior II Pose (Virabhadrasana II)
- Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
5. Yoga Improves Balance and Mobility
Do you realize that your ability to balance and avoid falling starts to decline at about age 40? And, this increases the likelihood of getting injured. That’s why having good balance is so important.
And, although balance is the result of a strong body, having strength and flexibility will only take you so far. In other words, you cannot align your postures properly if your energy and your mind are not in balance as well. This requires that you turn inward and become still. Therefore, yoga can help you achieve greater concentration and mindfulness.
In turn, your daily life will improve. So, along with better balance and stronger muscles, yoga improves confidence. And, we can all use an extra dose of courage now and then!
- helps you stay centered
- prevents falls and injuries
- improves focus and concentration
- increases confidence levels
Beginner Poses for Balance
- Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)
- Chair (Utkatasana)
- Lord of the Dance Pose (Natarajasana)
Doing yoga everyday will transform your body and change your lifestyle for the better. And, don’t be surprised when you decide to switch out a bowl of ice-cream for a smoothie, or when you turn down that second glass of wine. Yoga will inspire you to create a healthy lifestyle. However, you’ll never know exactly what wonderful surprises are in store for you until you commit to regular yoga practice.
Melissa Damiani is a wife, a mom to three fur babies, and a full-time lifestyle blogger. She decided in midlife that she was finally going to do things on her terms. She left a successful teaching career of 20 years to pursue her passions. And, in just a few years, she was able to create her ideal life! She started her blog because she was inspired to share her journey with you. Her lifestyle blog, Gratitude Grace Glamour, is a community for people who want to learn, grow, and make positive changes. You can also find her on Pinterest, and other social media platforms, where she shares her love of meditation, yoga, and spirituality.
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