There are so many different forms of exercise available in the modern world that it can be hard to know which one to choose. Life for most people involves being constantly switched on, in a world of maximum convenience, living with a high level of stress that is so constant, it’s starting to be seen as the norm. This high-stress living tends to drive people towards doing more and working harder. It is therefore no surprise that many choose high impact sport or gym workouts to move the stress of everyday life out of their bodies (obviously some people choose this type of exercise because they love it). What they don’t realise is that this can exacerbate stress in the body to the point where the body can’t take it anymore and gives in to injury.
Learn to let go
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that high impact sport or exercise should be completely dismissed, on the contrary! Many people need cardio, core strengthening and weight-bearing exercise to keep the body functioning optimally, and with this in mind, yoga works to complement this type of exercise. In fact, yoga includes cardio, weight bearing and core work, but it is done in a more mindful way. It doesn’t just work to stretch out tight muscles – a common misconception. When done correctly, it creates both stretching and contraction bringing balance to the muscles and tissues in the body.
Breath work in yoga adds another dimension – a meditative quality. It brings a deeper awareness of the body, deeper focus and relaxation of effort – i.e. not pushing the body to its limit. This can be difficult for many people to get to grips with because they are so used to pushing themselves towards a goal, that they’ve actually forgotten how to let go. It’s a shame that many don’t realise the healing power of the breath, until the body has forced them to slow down or stop through injury.
Live in the moment
Yoga is also great for those who lead or want to lead a slower pace of life. It encourages exploration of our deeper, spiritual nature. and allows us to take time to be in the present moment. It can be a great source of calm and relaxation while stretching and strengthening the body and can open the awareness of the true self. There are many benefits associated with yoga, some of which include improved strength, posture, flexibility and sleep patterns as well as a reduction in physical and mental stress and anxiety levels.
Yoga can bring with it a real sense of contentment and ease in the body and mind. It’s great to take up on it’s own, but it’s also a great compliment to other high impact exercise. It won’t suit everyone, but there are plenty of people who will benefit from doing it.