Meet the man who doctors said would never walk unassisted again. Through yoga, he proved them wrong, and in the process shed 140 lbs over 10 months. Watch Arthur Boorman's story below...
Yoga is beneficial for various reasons. It helps improve flexibility, works your core muscles, and it allows you to perform cardio-centric exercises in a way which is not as obviously taxing as other forms of cardio training. As well as core exercises in yoga such as plank and chaturanga, by engaging the core in standing, seated, and especially balancing poses, you can target the abdominal muscles that will give you a more toned and trim tummy. If you want to improve your strength, there isn’t much that will develop upper body strength faster than a regular Ashtanga yoga practice, which consists of lots of planks, press ups (aka chaturanga dandasana) and arm balances. Anyone thinking Ashtanga might not be for them because they can’t do press ups, you will be amazed at how accessible the classes are as a beginner and with regular practice you very quickly improve.
What about yoga and weight loss? Most types of yoga are not as effective as traditional forms of cardio (i.e. running, cycling etc) in terms of calorie-burning. But yoga can increase mindfulness as you become more acutely aware of your own body: people can become more aware of how much they are eating and make better food choices. Yoga is well-known for its stress reducing advantages, and a relaxed body is a better body: when high levels of the “stress hormone” cortisol are present in the body this contributes to weight gain, particularly encouraging fat to be stored in the abdominal area. That's why the cardio benefits and relaxation from a regular yoga practice, in unison with a sensible diet, can aid weight loss.
Yoga can be an ideal method of warming up/down when taking part in other sports and, more importantly, a great tool for recovery post-injury. If you decide to take up yoga as a tool for injury rehabilitation then you should seek a Yoga Therapist and consult your doctor beforehand. When practiced safely and/or with a credible teacher, the risk of injury in yoga is significantly less in comparison to other forms of exercise. In fact, yoga has proven to be beneficial in the healing process of injuries such as repetitive strain and many others. As injured muscles heal they can become tight where scar tissue forms, reducing flexibility and restricting movement in the area. Yoga practice can promote flexibility because the stretching postures allow scar tissue to break down more gently without inhibiting movement as it heals. Gentle movement also increases blood flow to the injured area which carries nutrients and removes toxins to/from the injury site, therefore assisting the healing process more effectively. And if those last few sentences bored you to tears, all you need to know is that footballers such as David Beckham and Ryan Giggs have used yoga to help keep them fit enough to play top-level football past their 40s. When looking to start a yoga practice post-injury, speak to your doctor or therapist to ensure it is suitable for you to start a practice. Then consider whether you would like to join a general class or work one-to-one with a yoga therapist. And always inform your yoga teacher of your injury and restrictions.
At SW-FIT we are trying to show that there is so much more to yoga than stretching and relaxing, and there is a style out there suitable for everyone. Try one of our classes if you'd like to find out more!