Posted by Anthea McCourtie on 17 Mar 2019

In the world of social media it’s easy to think that yoga is all about contorting yourself into strange positions and having the flexibility of an Olympic gymnast; however, there is so much more to yoga than this!  Poses, or asanas, are actually just part of the bigger yoga picture; but for now let’s look at the benefits you can gain from the physical practice.

As with most forms of exercise, there are many health benefits, but what is so good about yoga?

1. Flexibility

The obvious one to start with….  Many of the poses involve some element of stretching, which is definitely one of the reasons why your body feels so refreshed and relaxed after a yoga session.  For most of us a lot of our day is spent hunched over a desk, laptop, or steering wheel.   This can lead to shortened, overactive muscles as well as postural imbalances.  Yoga practice can help, not only to unlock these overly tight muscles, but also improve your flexibility overall.

The best thing is that you don’t have to be flexible to start!  Most classes will provide you with straps and block to help you modify poses so that you can be comfortable.

2. Strength

Although some poses, such as arm balances, clearly involve strength, students are often surprised at how much strength is involved in just holding some of the basic poses.  Even if you’re used to working out in the gym, yoga can use your muscles in a different way and still make you sweat.  Some of the more demanding yoga practices, such as ashtanga, are fantastic for building core strength – great for toning the midsection and helping to protect against low back pain!

3. Stress Management

Svasana or corpse pose is the final part of a yoga class.  Even after a demanding practice, those few minutes of lying down with your eyes closed (often with your teacher guiding you through a meditation) leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed.

Throughout the class itself you are encouraged to focus on your breathing as you flow through and hold each pose.  This can act as a form of mindfulness, making it perfect for helping to calm busy minds.

4. Acceptance

Although yoga can be an intense workout, the approach is very different to most other forms of training.  Rather than pushing yourself, you are encouraged to work with your body.  This can often be the biggest learning curve when you start. However, allowing yourself to navigate between comfort and challenge, not only enables you to progress much more effectively, but also teaches you to be much more accepting of your body.

5. Balance

Yoga can help you to find balance and not just the kind that involves standing on one leg.  Adding yoga to your training schedule can beautifully compliment your other activities, such as running, climbing, martial arts or strength training.  Most activities to be honest.  Stretching and strength building from yoga can help improve range of motion and flexibility and help to prevent injuries.

Mental balance is a huge benefit too.  If you have a stressful job and/or feel as if you are constantly on the go, yoga can help you to find some calm.  The time and space you spend on your own mat can be thought of as the ultimate “me time”!

Try it out and discover the benefits for yourself, let us know how you get on.


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For more information on yoga classes and private or small group sessions email: 

Anthea McCourtie
Anthea McCourtie BSc, BA (Hons) is a Yoga Alliance (RYS 200) registered teacher, nutritional therapist (mBANT, CNHC) and REPS registered personal trainer based in Epsom.

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