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The Benefits of Yoga

Words: Simon Paterson

Five years ago, whilst moving to a new house, I ‘put me back out’ incorrectly lifting a wardrobe out of the back of a van on my own! If only I'd paid attention during the manual handling course at work! At the time, I felt like I would never walk without pain again, let alone play competitive sport - I use the word 'competitive' lightly as I am now over 40! A friend of mine mentioned they did a similar thing some time ago and after practicing yoga they are, pretty much, as good as new. I took their advice and, childcare permitting, I can once again compete at sport. So, what is yoga and why should you do it?

Yoga originated in India around 5,000 years ago. Over the years it has been adapted to suit all ages and levels of physicality, and is commonplace in leisure centres, schools, hospitals, community centres and homes around the world. But what is it and why is it so good for you?

Yoga is a form of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to boost physical and mental wellbeing. It comprises of a series of movements and holding poses whilst regulating breathing, which naturally instils calm in the mind.

There is scientific evidence to suggest that practicing yoga on a regular basis is beneficial for; stress reduction, anxiety levels, inflammation reduction, heart health, quality of life, depression, chronic pain, sleep quality, flexibility and balance, migraines, breathing, strength and eating habits. The list is endless!

You can start yoga at any age, and if you went to a club you would see classes being run with primary school students to pensioners in their 70s and beyond! There are yoga classes for every age and group. You don’t have to be fit or flexible to take up yoga, and some classes are chair-based!

Yoga has had a huge impact on my quality of life. I recommend you find the time to practice yoga just a few times a week and it may be enough to make a positive difference to your mental and physical health - it definitely has mine.

PS: The picture is not me!


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