First, what is yoga?
Yoga is an ancient type of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing techniques to boost your physical and mental well-being, a technique that originated in India around 5000 years ago.
Once the province of hippies and eccentrics, these days yoga has spread throughout the world, offered at thousands of leisure centres, health clubs, schools, hospitals and even surgeries all over Britain. It has been proved to be good for you in all sorts of ways. Here's what Joe says about it.
Joe's yoga experiences – A true convert!
Joe has a tough job as a Sales Executive. When the everyday aches and stiffness that comes as we get older started making themselves felt, Joe decided it was time to take action. As it turns out, yoga has been surprisingly enjoyable and effective.
Have you ever given yoga a try? If not, Joe's experiences might inspire you to test-drive an old hippy favourite that was once relatively obscure but has now gone mainstream, respected and recommended by experts in the medical and healthcare professions.
If you'd like to know how yoga can boost your body, mind and spirit, read on.
“As age creeps up on me so have the stiff joints a sore back and creaky knees. For years I’d persuaded myself that I was too busy with work to commit to a regular weekly class, but when I found myself watch a repeat of Cash In The Attic one evening, I realised that perhaps I did have some spare time after all!
I was keen to carry out some mild exercise once a week, but didn’t really want to go mad and throw myself into heavy workouts in a gym. Having heard of yoga, I searched for a class and found one called 'body balance' in my local sports centre. A little research told me it was a mixture of Yoga and Tai Chi.
Not knowing much about either, I took the plunge and booked my first one hour session. The class itself attracts around twenty people. Once the class is ready and yoga mats placed at our feet, some low tempo modern music starts, the instructor explains things as we go and we follow her lead.
The first few moves are gentle bends and stretches with sweeping arm movements, the Tai Chi side of things. Various lunges, sit ups and bends follow over the next fifty minutes, the yoga element. Time seems to fly past and I feel genuinely relaxed but also nicely physically challenged.
In the last ten minutes the lights are turned off in the room and we are invited to lie in a comfortable position. Meditative music is played as we find a 'relaxed space' to be in. This has become one of my most cherished parts of the week, a time where I completely switch off for a few valuable moments. It feels amazing.
After the first class I ached pretty much everywhere! But having attended the sessions for around ten weeks now I've definitely noticed much improved flexibility, less general creaking and better muscle tone.
I really look forward to my Tuesday evening class. It leaves me feeling revitalised and relaxed, no matter what stresses I've experienced that week. The class I attend attracts people aged from twenty to seventy , representing every body type. The exercises are as challenging as you want them to be, and there are often several versions of the same move to choose from, each designed to suit a different comfort level.
If you want to be more bendy and less stressed then try Yoga. It really is good for the body and soul.”
Joe in Yoga action
What the NHS says
As the NHS website says:
“Dozens of scientific trials of varying quality have been published on yoga. While there's scope for more rigorous studies on its health benefits, most studies suggest yoga is a safe and effective way to increase physical activity, especially strength, flexibility and balance. There's some evidence that regular yoga practice is beneficial for people with high blood pressure, heart disease, aches and pains – including lower back pain – depression and stress.”
Have you tried yoga? If so, how does it make you feel? We'd love to share your experiences.
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