In the past few years, exercise has began permeating through our society as a catch-all for solving any health-related problem; obesity, injury, and depression. Working out has become known as a panacea (the magic pill which will always improve how patients feel). But can it really be applied so broadly? Is every type of exercise beneficial for everyone? And when is it too much?
At Esquire Group we are generally a rather active bunch, but recently we have come to realize that often what is really missing is balance. The prime example, we all sit too much and move too little, which is why exercise can often be a very beneficial lifestyle change. In some cases, however, people do to much in their quest, and this is where yoga comes in. Nowadays, yoga has become somewhat of a trend, with everyone from your mailman to your grandmother talking about their asanas, yamas, niyamas, and how they never knew what breathing is until they tried Ujjayi.
But the truth is, prejudices notwithstanding, the benefits of yoga are multifold:
1. The most obvious are, of course, the physical ones:
- So called “Yogis” are known to be have improved flexibility, but also have toned and strengthened muscles.
- All those arm balances and one-legged warriors also help to improve better proprioception (a term used to describe subjective awareness of movement and position of one’s own body in space), as well as a sense of balance, thereby creating body awareness.
- Yoga has proven to have long-term health effects on quantitative factors, such as, stamina and heart health. (citation here). In fact, the Journal for Complementary Practices in Medicine found that 83% of participants reported that “practicing yoga improved overall physical function and capacity”.
2. The other category of benefits of yoga are the mental ones:
- Forcing practitioners to be more mindful of how different postures and patterns of movement affect them, leads to more focused thoughts, which in the long-term improves brain function.
- If lots of flexibility and razor-sharp thoughts aren’t appealing enough, yoga is also known to be effective in combating stress and managing anxiety. In fact, the study mentioned above, 83% of participants also believed that “practicing yoga reduced stress/anxiety and enhanced calmness”.
- Stretching and strengthening is also a popular (and beneficial) technique in combating chronic conditions, such as arthritis, pain, and heart disease (citation here).
In fact, several of Esquire Group’s team members practice yoga; they can contort their bodies in to gravity-defying poses and their minds around the complex tax code. Namaste!