Yoga – the Foundation of Health and Fitness

Yoga went mainstream a long time ago because of its physical, spiritual and mental benefits for participants.

But now yoga is increasingly viewed as a key component for almost every training programme. Jim Harrington is one of South Africa’s leading yoga practitioners and Virgin Active’s Yoga ambassador.

He says: “Yoga is not just for flexible hippies. It actually works for people from all walks of life, which is why so many athletes are tapping into it. You just need to try it and to do it to see the results.”

If you’re not convinced, check out these 6 surprising benefits of yoga:

1. Builds strength

Sustaining yoga poses increases muscle endurance and integrates muscle groups to create functional strength throughout the body.

2. Flexi time

The flexibility developed by yoga boosts balance and can help reduce your risk of injury.

3. Sharp mind

The slow breathing encouraged during most yoga workouts will increase oxygen to the brain and help you think more clearly under the duress of exercise.

4. Gut feel

Yoga poses like the Downward Dog, the Camel and The Bridge aid a healthier digestive system. Diaphragmatic breathing allows your digestive organs to function properly and makes your intestines’ muscles more active, promoting regular food disposal.

5. Better sleep

Good sleep improves exercise performance. Take 10 minutes before bed for a few yoga poses like The Dolphin, which stretches the shoulders, neck and spine. Simple breathing exercises will also help you to unwind.

6. Steady nerves

The Child pose can calm your nervous system and bring your mind and body into balance as you face the next challenge.

For more yoga workouts to improve your health and to start your day the right way, check out the May-June issue of fitness magazine.

Yoga classes are available at all Virgin Active Life Centre and Collection Clubs and select venues have just introduced a new range of leading international yoga equipment from Manduka. For more info, visit www.virginactive.co.za

Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.