Join Australia's Fastest Growing Fitness Activity
Did you know that yoga is the fastest growing sporting or fitness activity in Australia? Around two million Aussies now regularly grab a yoga mat and perfect their poses, doubling the number of participants since 2008.
Back in the 1990s no-one would ever have believed yoga would overtake aerobics but it's done just that. Perhaps it's our increasingly stressful lifestyle that drives us to find some form of peaceful retreat. Interestingly, though, yoga has also overtaken soccer, cricket and golf. Who'd have thought?
The great thing about yoga is that it's suitable for all ages, yet still provides a fantastic physical workout. What's more, it's good for the body and the mind.
People have been practising yoga for over 5000 years around the world. Rooted in Ancient Indian believes, yoga combines exercise, stretching, breathing and meditation, making it one of the best all-round activities you can do.
There are several different forms of yoga, so you're sure to find one that suits your needs and abilities. The most common choice is Hatha Yoga, often described as beginner's yoga. Hatha focuses on breathing and stretching and teaches you the basic poses.
Iyengar and Kripalu yoga are also suitable for beginners. Iyengar is excellent for learning how to align your body correctly for the poses. Aids are often used to assist this, including yoga blocks. Kripalu yoga is slower and focuses more on the mind.
Then there's Ananda yoga - which uses silent affirmations to promote self-awareness, Vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga. Various tools are available to help you practise yoga correctly, including yoga rollers and yoga balls.
If you wish to make your yoga session more challenging get yourself a Yoga Dharma Wheel. It helps develop balance and strength whilst opening up the chest, back and shoulder muscles.
You may well have heard of Bikram yoga or Hot Yoga. This is not one for the faint-hearted! It is fast-paced and performed in a room heated to 40.5 degree Celsius. With the aim of also detoxing the body and improving circulation, it comprises a set of 26 poses. Do not attempt this if you suffer from cardiovascular conditions or chronic illnesses such as diabetes.
The benefits of regular yoga sessions are many. On the physical side, it will improve your strength, flexibility and balance. Being largely comprised of isometric exercises it can boost your circulation and even lower blood pressure. Weight-bearing positions like the Downward Dog may help to increase bone density.
The great thing about yoga is the ripple health effect. Striking poses and boosting your abdominal strength will improve your posture. That will reduce wear and tear on your joints, give you more energy and improve your breathing.
By improving and focusing on your breathing, you will learn to handle stress better and reduce anxiety. And with less stress, you can look forward to a longer and healthier life. When you consider all that, making yoga one of your New Year's Resolutions would be a really smart move.