While some practice yoga as a way to find a moment of tranquility in this fast-paced world, others attend as a means to achieving their very best body. Just ask Meghan Markle, who rolls her mat out on the regular for both reasons.
“Yoga is my thing,” the Suits star tells Best Health, explaining that her love for the meditative discipline began in her childhood.
“My mom is a yoga instructor, and I started doing mommy-and-me yoga with her when I was seven. I was very resistant as a kid, but she said, ‘Flower, you will find your practice – just give it time.’”
Nowadays, the actress mixes up her methods to ensure she’s never wary of the same routines.
“I change it up: I’ll do yoga a couple of times a week – hot yoga, especially. I love an intense vinyasa class – and even better if it’s blasting hip-hop and done in a dark room with candlelight. The best!”
Whether you’re looking to lose weight, build strength or simply find your inner peace, yoga will help you achieve all of this and so much more.
1. Relax and reduce stress
The stresses of daily life can take a serious toll on both the mind and the body, which is why it might come as welcome surprise to discover that yoga can reduce the physical and mental tolls this stress can take.
By encouraging relaxation and inner peace, yoga can lover the levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn can slow your resting heart rate, lower blood pressure and improve digestion and immunity.
Yoga has also been known to have positive effects on conditions such as anxiety, depression and insomnia.
2. Be heart healthy
A recent study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that yoga had the ability to quite significantly reduce the risk of heart disease.
Throughout the study period, researchers were able to conclude that yoga participants lost an average of two kilograms, decreased their blood pressure, and lowered their "bad" cholesterol levels by 12 points.
On top of this, other recent research has found links between yoga and the improvement of health issues including fatigue, obesity, chronic pain, asthma and irritable bowl syndrome.
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3. Tighten your core
If a set of rock hard abs is what you want, then you've come to the right place.
Yoga poses force the body to lengthen and activate key muscle groups at the same time, meaning you get an all over workout while still feeling complete and utter tranquility.
Yoga is also a fantastic way to restore the core in recovering mums after childbirth. Specific post-natal classes and poses are widely available to new mothers as a safe means to regaining lower abdomen strength, and tightening the pelvic floor.
4. Increase flexibility
Whether your goal is to simply tie your shoelaces without throwing your back out, or to finally achieve that wheel pose, yoga will help you get there.
Over time, yoga helps to improve mobility and flexibility in the body, which can significantly reduce general aches and pains as well as headaches.
Like many things, it may not happen overnight, but soon enough the ligaments, tendons and muscles will lengthen while simultaneously building strength, resulting in better alignment and posture.
5. Fight dementia
In results that may surprise you, the findings suggested that yoga worked better than brain trainers, such as sudoku, puzzles and crosswords, when it came to cognitive problem management.