Hatha and Kripalu Yoga incorporate slow movement and stationary postures held long enough to strengthen and increase total body tone and flexibility. Focus is also placed on improved breathing, stress reduction and relaxation. All fitness levels.
Yoga is one of those “exercise routines” that has a very colorful history and is surrounded by amazing legends of its birth. No one really knows the truth behind exactly where and how Yoga was conceived but they say it started around 15,000 years ago in the northern region of the Himalayan Mountains. A man walks into a town and quietly sat in the town square without any sign of getting up or moving for that matter. People from all over the region came to see this mysterious man who did not move or show any sign of life except for when he would shed a tear of pure ecstasy. After months of sitting and people surrounding him, people started to leave thinking they wasted there time just watching a man sit and thinking some type of miracle would happen. They didn’t realize that a man sitting that long with no sign of life, but very much alive, was a miracle itself. Of all the people that came to see him there was only seven men who stayed until he finally came back to the physical world. they followed him from place to place and hung on his every move. The man’s attention finally fell upon the 7 men and they begged him to teach them his ways. He responded by saying “This is not for people who are seeking entertainment. This takes something else. Go away”. But they stayed and, after seeing their perseverance, the man told them “Okay, I’ll give you a preparatory step. Do this for some time. After that we’ll see”. It wasn’t until 84 years later that the man’s attention fell back onto the 7 men. They had been preparing themselves the entire time. He saw how persistent and dedicated they were. they The man was amazed at how they had become shining receptacles. The following full moon he sat to the south as the first ever Guru. Through this whole time the 7 men did not know the mans name so the called him Adiyogi and the 7 disciples of yoga were born. Sometime every July Guru Purnima is celebrated to pay respects to all the people through Indian history that have been Gurus and knowledge givers.
Hatha yoga has many benefits, from physical to mental. It is also a way to balance your body back to where it needs to be from all the everyday activities that cause us to be unbalanced. Most forms of exercise or recreational activities cause an imbalance in our body, because those activities only exercise a specific section of our bodies and if other areas are ignored it could cause future injuries.
• How will Yoga balance my body?
As stated above, Yoga is an all around workout for your body and keeps you balanced. For starters a Yoga routine will help stretch out muscles that have shortened, due to stress and tension, but also correcting muscles that have been over stretched and lengthened. A study was conducted by the University of California at Davis, and they studied students who did eight weeks of Yoga. Before and after they tested them in muscular strength, muscle endurance, flexibility, cardiorespiratory fitness, body composition, and lung function. After the eight weeks they averaged out the results and found the group improved their muscular strength by 31%, muscular endurance by 57%, flexibility by 188%, and VO2max by 7%. Now if your wondering what VO2max is, it is a measure of the maximum volume of oxygen that an athlete can use. Its really interesting that the VO2max was increased after just eight weeks because according to the ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) an increase in VO2max should take at least 15-20 weeks of training. Now that we have covered the basics lets take a look at more specific benefits from Yoga. There have been studies conducted to relate Yoga to the effects of Asthma and how to improve breathing. People with mild to moderate Asthma can easily improve their lung function and airway sensitivity and reduce the need for their inhalers. In a single, random, single-blind, controlled trial, people with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) were asked to do Yoga two times a week for eight weeks for comparison to CTS sufferers who just did normal physical therapy and wore wrist splints. The study concluded that the test subjects who did yoga showed significant improvements in grip strength and pain reduction compared to normal splinting and physical therapy. The same can be said about Arthritis patients. The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine conducted a study in 1994 where the Arthritis patients who did Yoga showed improvement in pain during activity, tenderness, and finger range of motion. So as you see Yoga has many different benefits.
• How will Yoga help my brain?
Yoga, just like meditation, helps your brain feel great and refreshed because meditation is actually a big part of Yoga. You will spend a lot of time meditating by doing breathing exercises and learning to focus within. All you have to do is simply close your eyes and you will immediately notice a feeling of relief from stress as you go through the different poses of Yoga while focusing on your breathing simultaneously. Depression can be overcome as well by deterring negative thoughts and focus on positive feelings such as love and gratitude. Something else to think about is your short term memory. Because Yoga and meditation go hand and hand you will also improve your short term memory which is where our brain goes when it wants to managing info, control our emotions, problem solve, or generate complex thoughts. Overall Yoga has many benefits and should not be looked over as a great way to get into shape.