It may have been around for five millennia, but yoga is one of the most in-vogue workouts there is right now. And for good reason.
Once centered mainly around mental and spiritual practice, the ancient exercise has found its way into the contemporary fitness world through dance, martial arts and even weight lifting. Due to yoga’s explosive growth and advocacy from health gurus around the world, more people are taking to the mat as a way to boost flexibility, increase strength and de-stress.
Urban lifestyles can be stagnant – with desks, computers, mobile phones and cars sculpting us into uncomfortable postures. They cramp up our necks and backs, which can be counteracted with poses like the Cobra, which strengthens the upper back to correct bad posture.
In addition, rotating everything from your neck and shoulders to your wrists and ankles soothes stiffness from that all-day desk job. That’s just a few yoga poses – there are 84 basic yoga poses in total, all with different benefits.
Here at EVO, we believe exercise isn’t something that needs forcing. It’s natural human movement – walking, running, jumping, lifting, climbing and throwing. Yoga nurtures all of the actions which make this kind of mobility, strength and flexibility possible, especially in one of our largest joints – the hip – a crucial foundation for injury-free movement. From squatting and pushing to bending and lunging, it helps develop functional movements so that they eventually become effortless.
By using all of your own bodyweight, yoga aids muscle growth and increases your full-body strength. With regular yoga, your legs, abs, butt and arms become sculpted without lifting any weights at all. From the leg-targeting warrior pose to the spine-lengthening downward dog, virtually every pose engages your core to stabilise your body, increasing your endurance and toning up the body.
Poses like the triangle (feet wide apart, with one hand outside your ankle and one in the air) can be challenging for less flexible types. For some, even touching your toes can prove impossible. But with practice, you’ll gradually increase the flexibility in your hamstrings and inner thighs, making seemingly impossible poses possible and injuries less likely to occur.
More muscle means higher metabolism, so shedding the pounds is more likely. It also regulates your adrenal glands, lowering the stress hormone cortisol. High cortisol levels can lead to the body distributing food as fat around your abdomen, also called visceral fat. Lowering your stress levels with yoga can help manage this cortisol-induced belly fat.
Every time you roll out the mat and practice yoga, you’re putting your joints through their entire range of motion. From back pain to wrist ache, regular practice can shine a spotlight on any damaged spots around the body you’ve developed from exercise over the years. You unite your body and mind. You move with ease and pay attention to the way your body feels, finding what feels good as you go. Thanks to its slow and focused approach, yoga can be wonderfully restorative.