Tag Archives: flexibility

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7 Benefits of Yoga

You’ve probably heard that Yoga is good for your health, but how? Will it help you lose weight, or increase muscle tone? Can it help you get better sleep at night or make you have a smooth complexion? Here are 7 benefits of yoga that definitely should know about.

Tones Muscles

Although most yoga movements are static, they fully activate muscles all over your body. Every time these muscles are activated, they get stronger. The more yoga you do, the more tones your muscles will become, especially if you accompany yoga with a healthy diet.

Increases Flexibility

Yoga is unique in the way it flexes your muscles while stretching and lengthening them. As you move through different yoga poses, your muscles warm up and are then able to stretch even further. The more you perform these exercises, the more flexible your muscles become.

Strengthens your Immune System

Yoga has been shown to lower stress hormones. The more stress hormones your body body releases, the weaker your immune system becomes. Yoga also stimulates your lymphatic system, which plays a role in your emotions, and helps rid your body of unwanted toxins. All of these combine to help your body fight off unwanted diseases.

Aids in Weight Loss

Although running, lifting weights and playing organized sports may burn more calories per minute than yoga, it’s not uncommon for yoga to aid in weight loss. It does burn calories, but it also lowers your stress level, which can help you lose more weight.

Increases Energy

Stress and energy levels are often opposites of each other. The more stress you feel, the less energy you have, and the more energy you feel, the less stress you experience. Doing yoga on a regular basis will lower your stress level, providing more natural healthy energy.

Balances the Body and Mind

Unlike some other types of exercise, yoga isn’t about speed or competition, it’s about getting more in touch with your body. As you put your body in different poses, you focus of breathing, and feeling all your different muscles flex, strengthen, and relax. It helps you step away from whatever else is going on in your life, and take a few minutes to just stop and breathe.

Aids Digestion

The key to this benefit is proper breathing. When you inhale, let your belly expand from the diaphragm moving down, and when you exhale, relax the stomach and let it fall in. This can reduce all the tension that might get in the way of this natural movement, and improve digestion.

5 Stretching Do’s and Don’ts

Fit woman stretchingStretching is a part of fitness that often times gets over looked. It is regularly done improperly, or not done at all by a large sector of the population. This is probably because most people don’t really know where to start. If you’re not a fitness expert, how do you know which types of stretches are safe, how often you should stretch, or which muscle groups you should avoid? Here are five simple stretching do’s and don’ts that will help you stay loose, healthy and injury free.

 

 

Don’t:

1. Stretch the Wrong Muscles: Make sure you really evaluate which muscles are sore and direct your attention to those specific areas.

2. Move Fast: Going slowly from one stretch to the next will ensure proper stretching and help you avoid injury.

3. Stretch Before Warming Up: Muscles stretch much better when they’re warm, so do a little warm up to get your muscles ready to stretch.

4. Hold Your Breath: When you hold your breath, it limits that amount of oxygen that gets sent to your muscles, which tightens your muscles instead of loosening them up.

5. Bounce: When you do this, you risk tearing a muscle or tendon.

 

Do:

1. Hold each stretch for 10-20 seconds.

2. Stretch consistently, at least 3 times a week, about 10 minutes each time.

3. Hold each pose until you feel firm resistance, but not pain.

4. Always stretch after a workout to stay loose and avoid injury.

5. Start small by doing simple stretching to test your range of motion.

 

 

How Far Can You Stretch?

stretchI don’t know about you, but I have a hard time finding the time to stretch. I know it’s important, I know I’ll feel better, but when I finish my workout it’s hard to get myself to stay and stretch.

 

But then I remember this…..

 

“Blessed are those who are flexible for they shall never be bent out of shape”

- Adapted from Robert Ludlum

 

I’m talking about keeping our bodies flexible in this blog, but it’d be good for us to remember to be flexible in all aspects of our lives.  :)

 

Stretching will improve our flexibility. Being more flexible will allow us to be better at athletics and have fewer injuries while we’re active, and we’ll have better posture.

 

Age, a sedentary lifestyle, injury, weight gain, and disease can all lead to us being less flexible.

 

There are two main types of stretching:

 

1 – Dynamic stretching is an active way to stretch. These are usually done by teams and can be sport specific. Choose stretches that will warm up the muscles you will be using during your workout. When doing a dynamic stretch don’t hold the stretch for any longer than two seconds. Some examples of a dynamic stretch are leg swings, butt kicks, and high knees. (We don’t have a dynamic stretch workout)

 

2 – Static stretching is done by slowly stretching and holding the stretch for 10-30 seconds. This is the most popular type of stretching and should be done after your  workout, while your muscles are still warmed up. Diet Tools has some great ideas for static stretches you can try.

 

The ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) recommends that we stretch at least 3 times a week.

 

While stretching be sure that you don’t hold onto a joint in order to hold a stretch. For instance, when doing a hamstring stretch, don’t hold at your knee or ankle. Hold at your hamstring or calf.

 

Let’s all work to increase our flexibility in order to prevent injuries and keep us healthy and active.