By Raquel Jex Forsgren, Yoga Therapist, C-IAYT
The benefits of yoga are felt the FIRST time you do it. We go to yoga because we want to increase flexibility, strengthen and tone our muscles, alleviate stress and let go of our busy days. For some, it’s the only time we may get one hour to ourselves. In one 60-minute class, we have opened our chest muscles expanding our hearts, relieved tension in our necks, taken deeper and longer breaths and relaxed our minds. Clinical research published in several medical and holistic journals have demonstrated that, doing yoga as little as one or two times per week, has multiple physical, emotional, mental and physiological benefits acrossfor all ages.
Yoga INCREASES energy in both our bodies and brains. The movements stimulate our metabolism and circulatory system, which sends more oxygen to our blood, which feeds our brains. When we have more energy, we move more, which increases a feeling of productivity, in turn producing feelings of satisfaction.
Yoga IMPROVES sleep. Who isn’t sleep deprived in our “always-on” world? Yoga postures, the rhythmic movement of the breath and the relaxation that follows, lowers the stress hormones in our body and allows the body’s nervous system to re-set and re-balance, improving the of quality of sleep.
Yoga INCREASES strengthand flexibility, including visibility of nice long lean muscles. What medicine has that side effect? The muscles and joints are strengthened, which not only prevents injuries as we age, but it can reverse existing injuries. Flexibility BALANCES the strength gained during specific postures and will loosen and stretch tight muscles. Within even the first month, you’ll notice being able to reach further up than when you started and get closer to the toes you may be trying to touch.
Yoga STIMULATES metabolism and helps to lose weight. In a study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers reported that people with diabetes who did yoga three to six days per week for eight weeks, lost more weight and inches than those who walked for the same time-period. Yoga stimulates our metabolism through increased heart rate during challenging postures and lowers cortisol during the relaxation, reducing the storage of fat around our bellies
Yoga REDUCES suffering. Daily practice of yoga generates gratitude, creates an overall positive outlook on life and enhances our moods. Our willpower shifts our focus toward wellness rather than instant gratification, according to Larry Payne, Yoga Director at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. We begin to accept ourselves for doing the best we know how, which allows us to practice patience and compassion with others as they do the best THEYknow how.
Yoga CREATES calmness and REDUCES anxiety. Yoga boosts levels of GABA, a chemical in the brain that helps to calm the nerves. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicinereported that women who participated in a 60-minute yoga class twice per week reported greater reductions in anxiety after the nine-week study period compared to those that did not participate.
Yoga’s benefits last a LIFETIME helping us feel better as we age.
Yoga PROVIDES significant cardiovascular benefits. It reduces blood pressure, plain and simple. A growing body of evidence demonstrates that after 12 weeks of weekly yoga, including the postures, breathing exercises and deep relaxation, people saw benefits.
Yoga SHARPENS memory. You’ve probably experienced it. Forgetting where the keys are, inability to recall what we needed to do that afternoon. It all starts to happen as we age. In 2016, an International Review of Psychiatry reported that practicing yoga relaxation techniques for 30 minutes had immediate effects on brain function and performance. Read more about yoga and aging in July.
For me, yoga has been transformational. I started with only a physical practice to reduce stress from my 70-hour workweeks, stretch my tight hips from weekly plane travel and become long and lean. Then something else happened, I began to feel an inner calm that helped me manage daily stress and help me sleep. Through the postures and being guided through meditations, I uncovered the rootof my suffering. I was able to look at those memories, betrayals and abandonments with a fresh perspective. Most of all, I learned how to love myself, see myself and embrace myself. I’ve learned how to just live, let go of control (as much as I can,) handle life’s curveballs with elegance and do it all with exquisite intention.
Raquel Jex Forsgren is a Certified Yoga Therapist, C-IAYT, a graduate from Soul Institute, certified by International Association of Yoga Therapists, has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and 25 years in pharmaceuticals. Raquel has been living yoga for over a decade. Raquel lives in Chicago. You can reach her at [email protected] follow her at @rbforsgren on Instagram. Visit www.livingyoga-therapy.com.
Sources: Mind Body Green, 2017; Wanderlust.com, 2017; AARP, 2018; Yoga Journal, 2018; Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine; Alzheimers.Org.