Yoga is a fantastic way to keep fit: it’s great for strength and flexibility, but also focuses on clearing the mind and promoting positivity. It’s also really easy to tailor to different abilities, so it really is an exercise for everyone! Explore our yoga pages to find information and advice on using yoga to improve your fitness.
Yoga is an ancient practise that originated in India, and today it is a hugely popular practise for a wide range of people – it’s no longer just a hobby for hippies! It focuses on building strength and flexibility in the body, promoting positive thinking and mental clarity, and improving the connection between mind and body.
There are lots of different types of yoga, from Ashtanga, a fast-flowing and strenuous form of yoga where each pose is linked by inhaling and exhaling, to Bikram yoga, performed in a 40 degree room.
The great thing about yoga is that it’s really accessible and that’s one reason why it’s becoming increasingly popular. There are classes everywhere, or you can practise at home using free online videos. It’s really easy to adapt poses for different abilities, and the only equipment you really need is a yoga mat, and these are fairly inexpensive. So it really is for everyone!
People practise yoga for a variety of reasons. Many people use it simply as a form of exercise – to strengthen, tone, lose weight or improve fitness. Practising increasingly challenging poses will help you achieve these goals.
Some people use it to benefit from the calming effect it has, and the positive message it promotes. Often, more repetitive practises such as sun salutations can help to promote this sense of calm.
The majority of people appreciate the combination of both – strengthening and harmonising the mind and body to promote a happier, healthier you!
Absolutely! Yoga is a fantastic form of exercise on its own, because it helps to strengthen and tone the muscles, improve flexibility and stretch out stiffness – but these benefits also mean it’s a great way to support other forms of exercise. Your performance will benefit enormously from stronger, more flexible muscles, and you will appreciate the slower, steadier practises for recovery.
A quick look online will reveal lots of videos and tutorials on using yoga to support other exercises – such as yoga for runners, yoga for cyclists and even yoga for skiing and snowboarding.
It’s so easy to start yoga, with many of the basic poses being simple enough for complete beginners. Joining a beginner’s class is a great way to get started, get the hang of the poses and have someone else give you some pointers. After that you can progress to more advanced classes, or continue your practise at home!
Alternatively, you can look at following some online classes. These are great because they are often free and you can do them from the comfort of your own home. However, the downside is that you don’t have a instructor there in the room with you to help correct any mistakes – yoga is great fun and really gentle, but getting poses wrong can result in injury.
If you’re looking for an online class, try Yoga With Adriene’s 30 Days of Yoga plan. She’s great at explaining poses clearly and pointing out common mistakes to look out for.
Since yoga is less focused on cardio, you likely won’t need to increase your protein intake or take any particular supplements. However, since yoga isn’t just about exercise, but promoting an overall stronger, healthier and happier you, many people who practise it also pay attention to other aspects of health such as their diet.
There are a few factors in particular that you should focus on. Try cut out refined sugars, and replace these with healthier alternatives such as honey, agave syrup, coconut sugar or dates. Make sure to eat lots of complex carbohydrates like brown pasta, brown rice, wholewheat cereals, wholewheat bread, quinoa, and starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash and pulses.
You also need some good sources of protein to keep your body strong and healthy. Tofu, pulses, nuts and seeds are full of protein, but you’ll also get protein from your complex carbs.
Fruit and veg is also important, to make sure you’re getting lots of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Brightly coloured ones like peppers, tomatoes and citrus fruits are important, but so are your dark leafy greens like kale, spinach and broccoli. A good mix is best!
Hello! My name is Gillian and I am a fully qualified 200hours yoga teacher. I am an exercise enthusiast – from tennis to martial arts to walking. I am passionate about encouraging people to get active and ultimately doing what feels good in your body. I love exploring how moving the body through exercise benefits our health and wellbeing and sharing my knowledge in our Get Active blogs.
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