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YOGA BENEFITS BODY

The physical benefits of yoga are strongly linked to the mind, the practice brings about body awareness. Yoga improves our posture, relieves back pain, increases our flexibility and strength. Yoga also reduced stress because focusing on movement encourages a calm mind.

An aim of yoga is to encourage balance, physically between flexibility and strength; to be flexible muscles need some degree of strength, many of the postures and movements will train the body to be strong in key areas, i.e. legs, core, abdominal muscles, arms, upper back and with the support of strength then we can learn to release in areas that we typically tense, particularly when stressed. Joints are protected when the muscles supporting them are strong; often those of us who are flexible, with mobile joints have a tendency toward injury. Not forgetting of course that for a muscle to stretch the corresponding muscles on the opposite side of the body (being stretched) must contract, the more strength the greater the stretch.

POSTURE

Posture improves with the regular practice of yoga; many of the poses are related to movement in the spine. They encourage length and openness in the body, mainly to encourage deep breathing, leading to freedom of movement and ease from every day discomfort. Anecdotally, many people who have a regular yoga practice have said they grow taller; this is because their posture has improved, they stand taller and move with greater ease.

It is well known and has been researched that guided yoga practice can be healthy for the back, recent published research, carried out by the University of York, British Wheel of Yoga and the Iyengar Institute has shown that for a large proportion of people being treated for back injury benefit from yoga. Their recovery rates are faster and they need less medication. (See Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs by Anna Semelyn and Alison Trewhela).

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