Hitting the Gym? Not Until You’ve Tried Yoga
You’ve probably heard of beer yoga. In fact, the odd combination of beer and yoga is probably what brought you to this page in the first place.
Beer yoga challenges the misconception that yogis only drink coconut water and green smoothies. Fun as it may sound, it is a serious activity that works to improve several aspects of the body.
With or without booze, though, yoga is always a good idea for those who seek a different exercise experience.
From CrossFit and HIIT to Insanity workouts, exercise is lately careening toward the extreme. Yoga exists to prove that physical activity doesn’t always have to be vigorous to see results. While yoga seems mellow compared to other training programs, you’ll be surprised to learn that yoga’s health benefits can outdistance what “traditional” forms of exercise can offer.
Worried about the crow’s feet slowly forming around your eyes? Participate in at least three 60-minute sessions of semi-vigorous yoga every week.
While any type of exercise can help you achieve a healthy, flushed look, yoga goes a step farther by stimulating and balancing your endocrine system. This system does, among other things regulate aging and healing, as well as your body’s metabolism and immunity. This means yoga can help you look younger both on the outside and inside.
The results of yoga go beyond the coveted youthful, ethereal glow; it changes you down to your DNA. The same study found that compared with people who lived a sedentary lifestyle, yoga practitioners had much longer telomeres or the aspect of DNA that serves as a marker for aging.
2) Get rid of the toxin buildup in your body.
When you engage in any form of physical activity such as walking, jogging or even Zumba-ing, Jazzercise-ing or kickboxing, your body gains release and calorie burn from the endorphin.
Despite being active, you don’t lose many of the toxins that have built up in your blood, fatty tissues, and organs. These toxins range from mercury and dioxins to free radicals and even pesticides.
On top of being mindful of what you eat and drink, one way to totally cleanse body is to support the work your lymphatic system does. To do this, it helps to breathe deeply and be upside down – no kidding. Flipping upside down helps the lymph, a combination of white blood cells and other agents that collect bacteria and toxins for elimination, to travel more easily through the respiratory system. Yoga inversions, like many yoga poses, are specifically designed to aid the body’s detoxification process.
You lose some of the “junk in the trunk.”
No, I don’t mean it as the Black Eyed Peas did in their early 2000s hit. I was talking about all the stubborn, unwanted fat in certain areas of the body.
Yoga can help you shed unwanted pounds, and keep ‘em off. I used to swing from soft to svelte and back very quickly. It was only when I switched from the gym to yoga that I was able to keep my weight from swaying like a pendulum.
Other forms of exercise can make you hungry, so you tend to plateau in your weight loss efforts. Yoga, on the other hand, balances your hormones, so you’re less likely to experience insatiable cravings. It also helps you develop mindful awareness, so that you’re more likely to go for a salad instead of a burger.
A four-year study from Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center revealed that compared with middle-aged adults who engaged in other forms of exercise, those who practiced yoga at least once every week were less likely to experience drastic weight gain. The researcher also found that overweight adults who practice yoga lost five pounds, while respondents from the non-yoga group gained up to 13 pounds.
These findings supported the conclusion of a study previously conducted by the researchers. Alan Kristal, the associate head of the Hutchinson Center’s Cancer Prevention Program in the Public Health Sciences Division says that their earlier research found that over a 10-year period, middle-aged individuals who practice yoga gained less weight compared with those who did not. The results were independent of the respondents’ physical activity and dietary patterns. Kristal and fellow researchers deduced that the participants’ eating behavior was affected by mindfulness – a skill that one may learn either indirectly or directly through yoga.
Keep the doctor away.
For starters, many bodies of research have exhibited how regular yoga practice can help lower the risk for heart disease, hypertension, and even inflammaging, a new term scientists coined for the chronic, low-grade inflammation that is so prevalent in modern society. Inflammaging is linked to headaches, depression, diabetes, a compromised immune system, and some forms of cancer. According to Harvard Medical School, participating in yoga can help slow the adverse physical effects of stress, and consequently, inflammaging.
How can a little bending and stretching provide such huge benefits? Most exercises stimulate your nervous system and crank up your heart rate. But yoga does just the opposite. Director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of the Miami School of Medicine, Dr. Tiffany Field, says yoga puts you in a parasympathetic state, where your heart rate goes down as well as your blood pressure goes down.
Meanwhile, an exploratory research published in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity revealed that 12 weeks of yoga helped slowed cellular aging. The program involved 90 minutes of yoga, which includes breathing, physical postures, and meditation, five days a week through the course of 12 weeks. Researchers found indications of significantly decreased levels of inflammation and cortisol, which meant that yoga helped lower the participants’ stress levels.
All of these studies may substantiate yoga’s ties to a healthier heart, as well as its ability to quell your appetite, improve your mood, decrease your stress, and even help you sleep more soundly. When you think about lower inflammation, lower disease risk, and lower body weight, among many other benefits, it’s easy to see why many people claim that few activities are as good for your brain and body as yoga.