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8 Reasons Women Should Practice Yoga

In celebration of National Yoga Month in September, we want to make sure our patients are aware of the many benefits yoga can offer women. Along with increasing flexibility, strength, and balance, yoga can provide a variety of health benefits, such as calming anxiety, improving your mood, easing menopausal symptoms, managing stress, and so much more. And the best part? Yoga is for everyone. It can easily be incorporated into any lifestyle or schedule and practiced in your home or local yoga studio.  

According to a survey from the Yoga Alliance, practicing yoga continues to become more popular every year. In fact, more than 34 percent of Americans are somewhat or very likely to practice yoga in the next 12 months, with women making up 72 percent of yoga practitioners. 

If you’ve been thinking of exploring yoga and need a bit more inspiration, read on to learn about the 8 reasons why you should roll out your mat to see how yoga can promote your health and emotional well-being!      

But first, you may be wondering, what exactly is yoga? 
The word yoga, from the Sanskrit word yuj, means to yoke or bind, and is often interpreted as "union" or a method of discipline.  Yoga was developed over 5,000 years ago in India, as a comprehensive system for well-being on all levels (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual).  Once people get involved in Yoga, it’s likely to learn that yoga is much more than a type of workout, as it can be a philosophy, passion and way of life.

Here are some of the reasons why women should practice Yoga

#1:  Yoga can make you more flexible
Some people are afraid to try yoga because they think they are not flexible enough.  However, did you know that yoga can actually increase your flexibility?  For those people who have trouble touching their toes, practicing yoga on a regular basis may gradually help to ease stiff muscles. 

#2:  Yoga can help enhance your posture and appearance
Yoga teaches body awareness and can help you naturally contract core stabilizing muscles and stand taller, so you look more healthy and confident.  Good posture can make you look thinner.  Also, active, intense styles of yoga can help burn the most calories.  Ashtanga, vinyasa and power yoga are examples of the more physical types of yoga.   

#3:  Yoga can improve your mood
Did you know that taking the time to practice yoga poses throughout the day can help improve blood circulation and your mood?  Studies have shown that a lack of oxygenated-blood to the brain can have a negative impact on a person’s mood.  By stretching, you can increase endorphins and the flow of blood. 

Recommended poses include:  Fish Pose (Matsyasana), Child’s Pose (Balasana), Inversions, Boat Pose, Balance Poses).  For a detailed description of the poses mentioned, clickhere.

#4:  Yoga can help you sleep
Insomnia is an issue that many people face.  Lack of sleep can cause disease, illness, stress and more.  Doyouyoga.com recommends that practicing ten minutes of the following yoga sequence before bedtime can help your body calm down and prepare for a good night’s sleep. 

Bedtime Yoga Sequence:  Legs up the wall, Reclined Pigeon Pose, Supine Twist, Seated Forward Fold.  For a detailed description of each pose, click here.  (link:  https://www.doyouyoga.com/10-minute-yoga-sequence-to-help-you-sleep-96335/)

#5:  Yoga can help relieve anxiety and depression 
According to Newsweek, about 1 in 5 Americans suffer from a mental illness, including depression and anxiety. Practicing yoga can help quiet the mind and ease worries from our day-to-day lives.  Dorena Rode, a physiologist at UC Davis, uses yoga for her own mental health. “I have overcome addiction, depression and post traumatic stress disorder in my own life. I practice yoga daily, teach others and have done so for decade," Rode comments.

Recommended poses include:  Eagle Pose (Garudasana), Standing Forward Fold (Uttanusana), Child’s Pose (Balasana), Thunderbolt Pose (Vajrasana), Reclined Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana).  For a detailed description of each pose, click here.

#6:  Yoga can help women who are going through menopause
Yoga has been proven to help women suffering from menopausal symptoms.  According to MindBodyGreen.com, Yoga can ease the following symptoms:

  • Night sweats – yoga can reduce high blood pressure and generate oxygenation and blood circulation in the body.

    Recommended pose:  Savasana

  • Hot flashes – caused by an excess of pitta (the Ayuvedic dosha for “fire”) in the body that needs to be released.
    Recommended poses: Seated Half-Bound Lotus Pose (Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana), Half Lord of The Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana), and Reclined Lotus Pose (Supta Padmasana).

    When going through hot flashes, your movements should be slow, while paying close attention to the rhythm of your breath and position of your tongue to the roof of the palate to allow the mind to become calm and stabilized.

#7:  Yoga can benefit pregnant moms
Prenatal Yoga is a great way for pregnant Moms to prepare their mind and body for labor and delivery.  Benefits of prenatal yoga and poses include:

  • Fine tune balance due to the increase of estrogen and progesterone
    Recommended pose:  Tree pose

  • Relieve tension of lower back, hips, chest, upper back, neck and shoulders
    Recommended pose:  Goddess Pose

  • Calm the nervous system
    Recommended pose:  Pregnancy Meditation and Resting Shivasana

  • Help Preparation for Labor
    Recommended pose:  Cat/Cow Pose

  • Connect with Baby
    Recommended pose:  Chest opener 

  • Increase circulation
    Recommended poses: Standing Flow

For a detailed description of the poses listed above, click here.

#8:  Yoga can help women undergoing breast cancer treatment
Research shows that yoga can ease the nausea, fatigue, depression and anxiety symptoms that often accompany breast cancer treatment.  Yoga also naturally creates a support group for women who may be going through similar situations. Debra Campagna, a former hospital executive in Hartford, CT, says yoga helped her with her breathing while undergoing breast cancer treatment. "I'm convinced that yoga made all the difference in my treatment," she says. "The breathing was the thing that always came back for me - keeping the fear and panic down. I was in a PET scan machine for an hour. You just lie there and think terrible thoughts. I found my breathing. That was the most valuable thing."

How to choose the style of yoga and class that works for you.

You’ve decided to try yoga.  But now you may be wondering which style and class will work best for you.  Yoga classes can vary from gentle to strenuous and challenging.  For instance, Hatha yoga is the most common type of yoga practiced in the U.S., as it combines physical poses, controlled breathing and a short period of deep relaxation or meditation.  

According to Nicole Carango, owner and yoga instructor at Bliss Body Soul in Glastonbury, CT, finding the right type of yoga begins with figuring out why you want to practice it. “Is it for a sweaty workout?  Is it to connect with yourself spiritually, for meditation or gentle stretching?”  Once you find the style of yoga that suits you, you can try different studios to experience different teaching styles.  Carango comments, “I’ve been to many teachers who teach the same style, teachers who have taught me about my body, teachers that have moved me and teachers who make me want to laugh and cry at the same time.”  The bottom line is, “It’s important to understand what your searching for and then listen to what resonates in your body.”

To find a yoga class near you in Connecticut, visit YogaFinder.com or click here. For more information about yoga and how it can help you, please consult with your Women’s Health CT provider. Namaste!




Sources:

Borreli, Lizzette, “Yoga and Mental Health:  How it Helps Depression and Four Other Conditions,”newsweek.com, September 16, 2017.
Cronkleton Heal, Amy, “Yoga for Weight Loss,” Healthline.com, May 22, 2018.
Griffin, Katherine, “Healing Refuge,” yogajournal.com, October 21, 2008.
MacDonald, Cheryl, “7 Ways Yoga Can Help Women Through Menopause,” mindbodygreen.com, May 9, 2015.
Rudick, Lauren, “10 Minute Yoga Sequence to Help You Sleep,” doyouyoga.com.
Watkins, Danielle, “These Yoga Poses Will Instantly Boost Your Mood,” mindbodygreen.com, November 21, 2016.
“10 Benefits of Prenatal Yoga,” fitpregnancy.com, 2018.

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