Stretch Your Thinking About Yoga’s Benefits

Yoga Tree pose

A healthy lifestyle encompasses many things, from eating right and practicing smart sun protection to exercising and finding adequate ways to relax. Each month, Obagi will feature different healthy lifestyle tips and ideas you can incorporate into your everyday life. This month, we’ll explore the myriad physical and emotional benefits of practicing yoga.

Why We Love Yoga
Often, people hear the word “yoga” and assume it’s an activity requiring the flexibility of a Cirque du Soleil performer. However, even basic yoga can result in noticeable and almost immediate benefits for everyone. Consider just being able to touch your toes again without straining.

There are several different styles of yoga, so you’ll want to experiment to find the one that’s right for you. Nonetheless, improving your flexibility is beneficial at any age or ability level, because safely stretching your muscles and soft tissues through yoga may help release built-up lactic acid, reducing pain and alleviating muscle tightness.1 That’s a lot of gain for little-to-no pain!

Calm Yourself
The deep, meditative breathing you’ll practice in yoga focuses on lengthening the breaths, which improves lung capacity and relaxation, suppressing the adrenaline response triggered by stress.1 In addition, consider that a concentrated focus on breath and holding complex poses correctly doesn't really leave that much room for stressful thoughts from your day. Not a bad bonus!

Mind Over Body
There are biochemical responses too. Yoga has long been known to lower blood pressure and incidence of heart disease.1 Over time, it can help you build strength and endurance. Yoga can even have cosmetic effects. As it keeps stress levels down, it also reduces the release of stress hormones that can aggravate acne, eczema, and rosacea.2

Beyond the Science
Across the Internet, you can read about the many people who maintain that doing yoga has slowed their aging by improving posture, decreasing back pain, and allowing them long periods of deep concentration. To validate these claims for yourself, you can visit a local yoga studio and drop into a beginner’s yoga class, or try out this basic yoga pose (below) at home.

Try the Tree Pose
Now that you know a little about the benefits of yoga, here’s a beginner’s pose to try on your own. To familiarize yourself with the steps of the Tree Pose, we suggest watching one of the many how-to videos available online.

  1. Stand with arms at your sides.
  2. Keeping left leg on the ground, slowly lift right leg, placing right sole inside left thigh, hips facing forward.
  3. Bring hands in front of you in prayer position, palms together.
  4. Keeping legs and palms in position, inhale and bring arms over shoulders. Hold pose for 30 seconds.
  5. Lower and repeat on opposite side.

Congratulations! You’ve completed your first yoga pose!

References: 1. The health benefits of yoga. WebMD Web site.
http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/the-health-benefits-of-yoga. Accessed March 15, 2013.
2. 6 secrets to gorgeous skin. WebMD Web site.
http://www.webmd.com/healthy-beauty/features/tips-for-gorgeous-skin?page=3. Accessed March 15, 2013.

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