There are a lot of misconceptions about yoga. Some assume it won't burn enough calories, while others are uneasy about an hour of continually uttering "Om." It's time to change the way you think about this form of exercise, though, which can have a powerful effect on both your body and mind. There are so many different kinds of yoga, meaning you're bound to find one that fits your personality and fitness goals. Still not convinced?
Here are eight benefits that may change your mind:
- Seeking a sculpted core? The balancing poses in yoga require a lot of stability, which engage all of your core muscles. That means these moves work more of your mid-section than most crunches ever will.
- Consider yoga a major confidence booster. Active.com stated that studies by the University of California, Berkeley revealed women who consistently practiced yoga rated their body satisfaction 20 percent higher than those who took aerobics.
- Most of us don't have good posture, and it can be tough to train yourself to stand up straight, especially if you work in a job where you're hunched over a desk all day. That's where yoga comes in - the poses significantly strengthen the muscles in your upper back and shoulders.
- If you're stressed out, you can't get a better release than yoga. According to Harvard Health, a German study published in 2005 found that emotionally distressed women who took two 90-minute yoga classes a week for three months improved their depression by 50 percent, anxiety by 30 percent and overall well-being by 65 percent. It makes sense, too - yoga helps you to focus on being present in the moment, eliminating distractions and soothing the mind.
- The more yoga you do, the less you are at risk for injury. This is because every pose targets particular muscles, ensuring they stay limber and enhancing your overall flexibility.
- You'll have more stamina in any form of exercise by engaging in vigorous forms of yoga, such as Ashtanga and vinyasa. That means the cross-training benefits can be applied to the rest of your fitness regimen so that you see results faster.
- If you can't seem to shut off your mind when you hit the hay, yoga can help you drift off to dreamland more easily. In fact, according to Active.com, research has found that insomniacs fell asleep 15 minutes faster. More importantly, they slept for an extra hour each night after two months of participating in a 45-minute yoga class before bed.
- Despite what you may think, free weights aren't the only way to sculpt those muscles. In fact, as you're using your body weight to balance and move between poses, you're toning every single muscle.