10 Benefits of Gentle Yoga
Most people think of yoga as a complex set of exercises requiring the flexibility of a circus performer and the agility of a ninja.
In truth, the path of yoga encompasses so much more than just poses and it doesn't have to be a strenuous physical activity.
It IS possible to find a yoga that meets you where you are at and encourages you to go at your own pace.
If you have a "regular" body type, you can do yoga. You don't have to be someone slim and lithe that does unimaginable stretches.
If you have a body and can breathe and smile, you can do yoga.
You can start slow and take your time. Especially when you practice with us online.
Here are ten big benefits that a gentle yoga practice can endow you with:
- 1) Increase flexibility – Many people say they are not flexible so they CAN’T do yoga, when in fact, the opposite is true! If you are stiff and tight, then yoga is exactly what you need. Lack of flexibility can contribute to injury as we get older and make it more difficult to do simple daily tasks like tie our shoes or shoulder check when driving a car. Ultimately the more flexible your body is, the more ease you will find throughout your daily life.
- 2) Lower inflammation – This is one that not many people are aware of, but yoga lowers inflammation in the body. Inflammation is normal healthy response that your body initiates to protect against infection or stressors, but when it is chronic and in overdrive, it can lead to pain, blood clots, even strokes. Yoga reduces inflammation in the body by lowering stress levels/cortisol and increasing feelings of relaxation which signals the body to lower the inflammatory response.
- 3) Reduce pain in the body – All of the movements, stretches and postures that we do in yoga massage the tissues and releases stress from the cells. It squeezes the body which increases blood flow and circulation which releases toxins from the body. As well, the deep breathing that we do in gentle yoga and the mindfulness we cultivate helps us to manage pain better. It actually has the capacity to change and rewire the receptors in the brain.
- 4) Improve sleep quality – Gentle yoga is ideal for sleep issues. The practices we do focus on activating the parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for our rest and restore mode where sleep happens. A big part of why people have difficulty sleeping is that their nervous system is stuck in sympathetic mode or fight or flight and therefore they feel very stimulated and alert. Add to this a plethora of foods, drinks and other stimulating things that we take in making it very difficult for us to flick the switch off for sleep. This retraining of the nervous system is a process and a practice but it is very effective at helping people sleep better.
- 5) Build strength – Yoga doesn’t have to be strong flow or power yoga for it to build strength. In fact, with gentle yoga, we build strength slowly and mindfully with awareness and intention. It is perfect for those who may not start off very strong as we do many modified movements that help to meet you where you are at so you can gradually begin to build your strength up in all areas of your body
- 6) Calm the mind – This is one of those happy side effects that people don’t always know about when they start yoga. They might begin yoga for their physical health but it doesn’t take long for them to begin to notice a change in how they feel mentally and emotionally. This means that we have more mental balance in order to deal with life's ups and downs and we don't get thrown around so much by them.
- 7) Relieve stress – This is a big one, a huge one. Because gentle yoga is GENTLE, we are not adding MORE stress on top of the stress you already have in the way that a hot yoga or strong style of yoga can sometimes be. This means that the yoga practice is appropriate for those with any kind of mobility issue, tightness or restrictiveness and the yoga practice will still have the glorious effect of lowering our stress levels. As we know, stress is one of the biggest contributing factors to various health issues, so by lowering our stress, we are helping ourselves in so many ways.
- 8) Facilitate natural healing – As I mentioned above, the style of yoga we do is ideal for enhancing the function of our parasympathetic nervous system, the opposite of fight or flight and this is where all our natural healing takes place. When we move into a state of deep relaxation, all our energies get directed towards healing, regeneration, immunity, reproduction and digestion.
- 9) Lower anxiety – Many people have found that gentle yoga helps to relieve their anxiety, from the meditation, to the gentle movement to the various breathing techniques, all of this contributes to increasing our capacity for self-regulation where can we manage our emotions by manipulating the breath. We practice doing this in yoga and master the skill when we are feeling calm and relaxed, so that when we DO face an anxious situation in our daily life, we have these skills nailed down and we can easily and instinctively reach for them whenever we need them.
- 10) Make you more compassionate, patient and understanding – This is another happy side effect that people notice. You just become a nicer person when you practice yoga. You may find yourself driving in rush hour and not getting road rage one day. Your relationships with spouse, children and other family may improve as you show up with more patience and compassion in daily situations that you may have found taxing before.
And the best part about gentle yoga is that it is accessible to a wide range of people, ages and body types, which means that more people can enjoy the benefits listed above.
Remember: you have everything inside you already that you need to thrive, heal and be happy.
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