The Benefits of Yoga

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(By Renee Jeffreys Heil) Everywhere you look there are Yogis. Yoga classes, yoga clothes, yoga props, yoga jewelry, even on Fort Myers Beach you will see an individual or a group doing yoga on the sand. So why are so many people jumping on the yoga bandwagon, and why, should you consider it as part of an overall healthy lifestyle? Read on to learn about the benefits of yoga and how accessible it is to EVERY body.

Yoga has a long history in India and became very popular in the US in the 1960’s. Today, you can find a yoga class in almost every city and small town in America. While there are many different styles of yoga the benefits of a regular yoga practice are impactful.

  1. A Regular yoga practice helps us to reduce stress & anxiety. Multiple studies, in different populations, have shown that regular yoga helps to reduce the production of cortisol, improves mild depression, and reduces anxiety. While the mechanism is still unclear (is it the breathing, is it the movement, is it both?), the result is the same. Taking the time to fit in a yoga practice improves your mental health.
  2. Regular yoga helps to promote better sleep, especially in older populations. The movement of yoga helps the body to reset, all movement, has been shown to improve sleep. For those just starting an exercise program, improved sleep is often the first benefit they notice.
  3. Yoga also help to improve balance & flexibility. This is true for both athletic populations, as well as in older adults. This one seems pretty straight forward. The poses (moves) in yoga were designed to improve balance and flexibility, but don’t be surprised when you notice an increase in your strength.

Yoga has many more benefits as well. However, if you look on some social media sites you might think that yoga is out of your reach. Here are some common misconceptions about a regular yoga practice.

I have to be flexible to do yoga. Well then, you should only visit the hairdresser when your hair looks good, right? Most yoga instructors will help you modify the moves as you progress through your practice. Blocks, straps, or water bottles & books, are great aids making poses more accessible.

I am new to yoga and the classes move to fast. Try a Restorative Yoga or introduction to yoga class as a first step. Restorative yoga moves slower and focuses on a few poses, you use props to support your positions, and hold them for longer. It is an excellent yoga class for those new to yoga.

I have balance issues and I don’t want to fall in a yoga class. Chair yoga is a great alternative, and first step, for those with balance issues. Chair yoga goes through the same poses as a non-chair yoga class. As a result, chair yoga gives you very similar benefits to a traditional yoga class. As your balance, strength, and flexibility explore other yoga classes and styles. Don’t let chair yoga fool you, with focus and intention, it is a great workout.

The foundation of all yoga is breath and on a basic level yoga is linking that breath to movement. Regardless of your age, flexibility, or fitness level, yoga is a great way to improve your health and feel better.

Renee Jeffreys Heil, PhD, RCEP, EIM III and owner of the FMB Yoga Project & the Saba Movement Center. Movement is her meditation. Check out their classes at www.fmbyogaproject.com and remember your first class is always free. NOTE: Due to COVID 19 class size is limited and pre-registration is required. Questions – email Renee@fmbwellnessproject.com or call 801-896-7272.