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5 Reasons Why Yoga Is the Ultimate Form of Self-Care

Originating in ancient India, yoga is a mind and body practice that cultivates wellness and is now regarded in the Western world as a holistic approach to health. The physical exercises, known as 'asanas', in combination with breathing practices and meditation are known to have a multitude of health benefits ranging from improved flexibility to decreased anxiety. But how do you know if yoga is the right type of exercise for you? 

"Yoga has been a gateway for me to truly optimise my health, mobility, and vitality," says instructor Andrew Hampson of Bad Yogi Retreats. Andrew has been practising for 30 years and teaching for 20 years and believes everyone will reap the benefits of incorporating yoga into their lives. "No matter your age, size, shape, gender or flexibility (or lack thereof) there is a style of yoga that suits everyones aspirations and abilities," he says. "From gentle, restorative and nurturing yin yoga classes, to intense, sweaty power flow classes, there’s something within yoga that resonates with everyone."

It can be easy to fall into the trap of feeling intimidated by terminology, fancy yoga studios, or complicated poses, but the beauty of this practise is that it truly is for everyone.  

Below, we highlight five beneficial reasons why you should begin practising yoga.

5 Benefits of Practising Yoga

1. Improves strength, balance, and flexibility

Yoga is a multimodal activity, meaning it's a combination of different types of physical exercise. This is great as it means you will be able to improve in more than one area. Many of the positions in yoga are designed to improve strength, balance, and flexibility. Slow movements and deep breathing help increase blood flow and warm up muscles while holding poses can build strength and help increase your balance capabilities. 

2. Helps to relieve back pain

By targeting the paraspinal muscles that help you bend your spine, the multifidus muscles that stabilise your vertebrae, and the transverse abdominis in the abdomen, yoga poses help stretch and strengthen important back muscles. 

3. Helps to manage stress

A number of studies have shown that yoga helps to promote relaxation and in turn reduce stress levels. Controlling your breathing is an important aspect of yoga and it can help you control your body and quiet your mind. Meditation is a significant part of the practise and according to the Mayo Clinic the emotional benefits include:

  • Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
  • Building skills to manage your stress
  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Focusing on the present
  • Reducing negative emotions
  • Increasing imagination and creativity
  • Increasing patience and tolerance

4. Develops body awareness

Because yoga forces you to feel your body movements, make subtle adjustments in weight and position, and make decisions about where to stop at a place that feels right, it gives you a direct opportunity to truly listen to your body and therefore helps you develop better body awareness. By having good body awareness you can better identify and meet your needs both physically and mentally. 

5. Improves sleep

At Bed Threads we're all about how to improve your quality of sleep. Yoga is a gentle and restorative way to wind down at the end of the day. Deep breathing is a relaxation technique that can induce sleep and regular movement is an important element of good sleep hygiene. Hatha and Nidra yoga are particularly good for helping you unwind.

Enjoyed this? Try These 6 Yoga Poses For a Better Night's Sleep

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