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We all have that one person in our life that is (sometimes gently) reminding us that we should be more active. For some of us this can seem like a big mountain to climb. Although there is many different types of exercise, the focus for today is yoga.

Yoga is very physical, there is no doubt you will reap the benefits physically with regular practice. But with this physical practice comes discipline. It’s not only the metal discipline needed to get you to the class, when really you’d prefer to be sitting on the couch exercising your eyes watching the TV. The real mental discipline comes when you are in class, performing the postures.

The control of deep, full breathing throughout the posture, without giving in at the first sign of discomfort is the real discipline. Don’t get me wrong, yoga does not abide by the ‘no pain, no gain’ motto. It simple means, having the mental ability to sustain a posture while, breathing slow, deep, relaxing breaths, using the full capacity of the lungs.

The benefits of yoga versus other forms of exercise;

* Low risk of injuries

* Awareness is internal, not focused on outside stimulus

* Dynamic and static movements

* Non-competitive

* Energising not fatiguing

* Unlimited sequences; less likely to get bored

* Character building

* Possibility for self growth and self awareness

The body, mind and spirit are not separate entities; the ancient yogis believe they are one. We have been taught these are separate when in fact they are not. Our busy lives, don’t allow us to nurture this unity and this is where yoga comes in to your life. Eventually with practice, learning to calm the mind from the brains ‘chatter’ and feeling a sense of achievement with the holding of poses, leaves you feeling very positive, which is what feeds the soul.

Remember the actual meaning of the Sanskrit word ‘yoga’ is union – the unification of the body, mind and soul. The practice of yoga is not just the physical postures (asanas). It is re-educating the body, mind and soul how to; breathe full, deep breathes, concentrate, relax and re- assess your attitude towards yourself and others.

Yoga is considered therapeutic, has it has the following, well-documented effects on the body and mind;

Body – The physiological effects

* Detoxification of organs

* Slows heart/pulse rate

* Decreases blood pressure

* Stabilize autonomic nervous system

* Respiratory rate decreases

* Sleep improve; changes alpha/beta/theta waves

* Balances endocrine function

* Gastrointestinal function strengthens

* Joint range of motion improves

* Muscles flexibility increases

* Hand-eye coordination increases

* Balance improves

* Posture improves

* Energy levels increase

* Dexterity skills improve

* Weight stabilizes

* Immunity strengthens

Mind – The Psychological effects

* Mood improvement

* Self-acceptance increases

* Anxiety and depression decrease

* Hostility decreases

* Subjective wellbeing increases

* Memory improves

* Attention/concentration improve

* Ability to learn increases

* Social skills improve

Spirit – wellbeing and purpose

* Conditioning your body and mind with yoga results in an uplifting and positive sense of wellbeing, peace and purpose.


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