Most of us in North & West Vancouver lead active lives outdoors, including participating in extreme sports. When the mountains and ocean are right at your back door, how can you not want to be outside hiking, mountain biking, skiing, swimming, climbing, going for a soothing trail run or road bike?! While these more strenuous forms of exercise are great for an exhilarating rush and often require you to be in a meditative or focused state, more and more of us are realizing the need to balance our outdoor passions with gentle forms of yoga for our longevity. Here are the top 10 reasons to practice yoga:
- Yoga encourages you to focus on the breath – during classes we work with the breath or pranayama to increase lung-capacity and breath control, which supports your cardiovascular strength & stamina. If asthma or allergies are a concern for you, pranayama can also help encourage full breaths and a strong respiratory system.
2. Yoga targets large muscles – by holding strength building poses in classes such as Vinyasa, we target our larger muscles in balanced and safe ways to support us and our posture. This helps you build greater endurance for your favorite sports.
3. Yoga builds strength in fine muscles – when we hold poses we activate the finer and often under-used muscles which are needed in our daily activities and for balance. These fine muscles support our larger muscles and the integrity of our bodies.
4. Yoga helps strengthen bones – by placing pressure safely on bones it causes the cells to regenerate, which keeps bones strong, helps to prevent osteoporosis and helps to reduce inflammation in some forms of arthritis.
5. Yoga encourages flexibility – this surprisingly to many, is not the goal of yoga, but rather a by-product of allowing our tight muscles and fascia to lengthen, which in turn helps to prevent injuries…and feels good! Many of us have very tight low backs and legs, which if not effectively stretched gently in classes such as Yin and Restorative, can cause tears, strains.
6. Yoga helps to balance our nervous system – through breath and mindfulness exercises or meditation, we learn simple techniques to calm our nervous system and release emotional tension. This allows us to be more self aware, less anxious, and get better sleep.
7. Yoga helps with greater self-awareness – you will notice you become more attuned to your body and what is happening around you, helping you stay present, focused, and better able to handle and mitigate potentially stressful situations.
8. Yoga supports hormone balance – by learning simple tools to support the nervous system, get better sleep, live more mindfully and mitigate or better handle challenging situation, we allow our hormones to come into greater balance. Less cortisol is also present, which helps with weight concerns.
9. Yoga can help improve your relationships – by being more present, more objective, and understanding our stress responses, we are in greater control of our reactions and able to really be there for those close to us, which strengthens our relationships.
10. Yoga helps boost your immune system – by nourishing your nervous system, we reduce inflammation and stress hormones. This helps us to stay healthy so we can enjoy being outdoors in our beautiful city!
You can practice many of these techniques at home, such a simple slow breath work or pranayama – inhaling and exhaling for a count of four. I strongly recommend taking a few breaks to do this every day, and watch the difference in your sense of peace over a month.
While yoga can also be practiced at home, many find it more peaceful to come to a space dedicated to this practice, with a seasoned yoga instructor who can offer suggestions in order to help your alignment and relaxation. Many of us are used to practicing in large studios where it can be challenging for the instructor to support each student, and ensure the integrity and safety of poses. Smaller studios are able to dedicate the energy to the well-being of clients. This is particularly important to us at Studio 202, and one of the aspects we feel sets us apart. Our team is passionate about supporting your well-being, physically, emotionally, and spiritually in our North Vancouver oasis. Come check out some of our classes to help you stay strong and healthy for all of life’s adventures!