When gyms were shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic, many group ex classes and personal training sessions shifted to online formats. These gave people a valuable opportunity to stay active during quarantines, and now have become essential components of health club offerings – even as facilities have opened.
Almost every group class format is now available at home, giving exercisers a wide variety of workout options. Interestingly, one of the most popular modalities in digital classes has been yoga. It’s not a big surprise, as yoga at fitness centers and studios has been continually growing over the past several years.
Although we don’t have scientific data to support this, perhaps yoga gained participants who appreciated the privacy of home versus a crowded, in-person class of experienced yogis. Even though yoga is more mainstream now, it still carries a bit of a mystique and can be intimidating for newbies. But if you haven’t done it yet, now is the time to dive in.
Regardless of the reasons for the rise of yoga online, there are numerous other benefits that keep people coming back. Here are many that should convince you if you’re still wondering, “Why try yoga?”
Why Try Yoga
The word “yoga” refers to the union between the body and the mind, and this ancient practice often includes a spiritual or meditation aspect. There are many different styles of yoga, including hatha, vinyasa, iyengar, ashtanga, bikram, kundalini, yin yoga and restorative. Each combines physical poses with variations in sequencing, flowing and holding and breathing styles. Some also incorporate chanting, props or ambient changes like room temperature or incense.
Consult class descriptions or ask about class styles and formats before joining a session so you can choose the best option and have a sense of what to expect. And don’t give up after just one class. Whether you are taking a class in-person or online, experiences vary based on the instructor’s style, the music and more. If you don’t like it the first time, try other classes.
Benefits of Yoga
Regardless of what style of yoga you practice, you’ll enjoy a host of benefits. Among them:
- Low-impact – At a time when HIIT, CrossFit, boot camps and extreme challenges are all the rage, yoga is a welcome retreat for your body, with no pounding on the joints. As a result, it’s actually a great complement to your all-out, no-pain-no-gain sweat sessions.
- Increased flexibility – Yoga helps increase your range of motion and release tight muscles for better mobility and a lower risk of injury.
- Better stability and balance – A number of poses challenge your balance and can help decrease your chance of falls.
- Greater core strength – Many yoga poses require you to engage your core and hold those muscular contractions in your abs and lower back. A stronger core benefits all movements.
- Improved posture – Most of us sit too much and have lousy posture. Improving your core strength and flexibility, along with a heightened kinesthetic awareness, helps you maintain proper posture.
- Back pain relief – Studies show that regularly practicing yoga can help reduce and manage back pain, which is very common among Americans.
- Decreased stress – Releasing muscular tension, engaging in intentional breath work and practicing mental focus – along with taking time for self-care – all help to reduce stress and promote relaxation – which we all can use a little more of these days. Plus, studies show that practicing yoga can decrease anxiety and depression as well.
- Enhanced sleep – Yoga has been shown to be effective against insomnia, likely due to its stress relief and relaxation promotion. Being better rested can significantly improve quality of life.