benefits & outcomes
Increase Strength and Flexibility
Yoga is about creating balance ~ a balance between your strength and flexibility ~ your stability and mobility. One end of this spectrum is not better than the other. Strength and flexibility play equally important roles in our sense of well-being and ability to withstand stress.
All healthy movement starts with stability. Certain yoga poses can help you build strength, improving bone density as well as metabolism. Yoga also helps to strengthen and maintain postural muscles, improving posture and balance.
Similar to the body’s ability to get stronger with training, the body’s ability to adapt and become more flexible also comes with practice and training.
Too much strength can lead to injury and movement dysfunction. Likewise, too much flexibility, or movement that is not stabilized, can lead to injury and dysfunction. Yoga has been shown to work on both strength and flexibility. We want the strength of steel, but with steel’s flexibility.
Improve Balance and Posture
Most of us live our lives on a sagittal plane, right in front of us. We also spend many hours a day sitting down ~ in cars, at computers, on sofas and in beds. All of this “saggital” living and sitting causes us to slowly contract through the front line of the body. We are all familiar with the “new norm posture” where the shoulders round forward and the head projects forward. Our abdominals and gluteals have become weakened, while our hip flexors and low back muscles have become tight.
Yoga practice not only allows you to train your body to move more effectively through all planes of movement (which by nature we are designed to do), but it also allows you to work effectively with postural muscles. You learn ways to strengthen, and thereby stabilize where you may be weak, and to lengthen where you may feel tightness and contraction. Through this retraining of your system, you are better able to adapt and move back toward the correct posture.
A yoga practice is not only an exceptional tool for improving posture, but it is also a great training tool for improving proprioception (knowing where the body is in space), as well as balance. As we age, we become more aware of the importance that balance plays in preventing falls and injuries.
Improve Breathing, Alertness and Sleep
One way we communicate and work with the parasympathetic nervous system is through breath. In yoga, breathing plays a large role. For the first time, many people become aware of how inefficiently they have been breathing throughout a normal day. This inefficient breathing pattern, coupled with poor posture, leads you to feel lethargic and mentally dull. Learning to breath more mindfully and effectively will help you retrain your posture. An added benefit of a fuller breathing pattern is increased mental alertness and a sense of calm.
Mindful movement and breath will also improve sleep habits, allowing for longer and more restful sleep patterns.
Improve Focus and Mental Clarity
In our multi-tasking society, many of us have reprogrammed our minds depleting our ability to focus. Distracted minds and attention deficit conditions are on the rise. An inability to focus on any given task is affecting not only work quality, but also family lifestyle. In a yoga practice, there is an emphasis on developing and strengthening your ability to better harness and direct your point of focus. With improved focus, comes improved mental clarity.
Live More Mindfully
Stop living on automatic pilot and learn to live responsively rather than reactively. Yoga teaches us to redirect our attention to our physical well-being, as well as our breath and mental condition. This reconditioning to slow down and to strengthen our ability to be attentive through single-pointed focus spills over off of the mat. We learn to be not only more attentive but also more purposeful in our living.