Yoga is the word on everybody’s lips. Over the last several years it’s exploded in popularity, evolving from an obscure hobby to a fitness-buff staple. And it’s no wonder. Yoga offers the best of many worlds, providing something for everyone. It’s a mindful, stress-relieving, strength-building, energising workout that anyone can participate in.

But why should you be doing it? Well, if you don’t already know your down dog from your cobra, here are 5 reasons why you should consider yoga for your next exercise pursuit.

1 – Yoga relieves stress 

All forms of physical exercise help lower our stress levels. But yoga is particularly effective. Its combination of physical exertion, concentration, and focus on deep rhythmic breathing gives it myriad stress-busting properties.

The mental effort that goes into holding and perfecting each yoga pose also helps clear the mind. It’s a mindful activity which requires an active awareness of your body and breath. And the focus you’ll put into maintaining this awareness will eliminate all other thoughts from your mind.

2 –  Improves flexibility

Age, inactivity, and extended periods of sitting all contribute to poor flexibility. As we get older, our bodies naturally become less supple. And in day-to-day life we’re rarely required to perform feats of extreme flexibility. So, over time, our joints become stiff and rigid.

Yoga, however, exposes us to movements that work underused areas of our bodies. This, in the long term, will help to loosen our joints, elongate our spines, make us more mobile, and increase our overall flexibility.

3 – Builds strength

Yoga is an amazing tool for building core strength. And core strength is important because it’s functional. Not only does it improve balance, but it helps us in performing daily tasks. From walking stairs to lifting boxes.

During yoga practise, many of the poses are held for extended periods of time. So we’re essentially performing a bodyweight exercise and an endurance exercise at the same time. In this way, practising yoga on a regular basis can help to improve our core strength.

4 – Corrects posture

Poor posture can cause many physical problems, from back and neck pains, joint issues and headaches, to poor digestion and improper breathing.

Because yoga elongates the spine, a natural side-effect is that it also improves posture. This is understandable considering that our spine is what keeps us upright. So fixing the spine = fixing posture.

In this way, yoga could be especially beneficial for office workers, or anyone who sits down for extended periods of time. This is because it can help to reverse the effects of slouching and sitting, and as a result relieve back and neck pains.

5 – Teaches better breathing

Many of us develop poor breathing patterns as a result of being stressed and overworked. When negative emotions abound, our breathing becomes shallow and constricted. And if we experience lots of stress, all the time, our bodies will become accustomed to that kind of breathing.

Yoga makes us focus on our breathing. It forces us to take deep breaths, concentrate on breathing patterns, and synchronise inhalations and exhalations with body movements. The benefits of proper breathing are manifold, and include pain relief, increased immunity, and detoxification. And regular yoga practise has been linked to improved lung function.

By learning to breathe properly, we can become more relaxed, healthier, and happier in our day-to-day lives.

You can take a look at some yoga breathing techniques here.

Where’s the yoga, please?

So, is it time to get into the studio and onto the mat? Why not come along to Jesmond Pool, where we offer 2 classes a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays. For more information, visit our yoga class page.