Health Benefits of Yoga
Yoga is a mind-body form of exercise. It works muscles and joints to improve fitness while also encouraging mindful focus and listening to your body. Because of this unique combination, yoga is very valuable for improving both mental and physical health.
Through deep breathing and precise movement, yoga encourages relaxation and the focus on being present in the moment. The act of practicing yoga balances the relationship between the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for stress and the fight-or-flight reflex, and the parasympathetic nervous system, thus causing the individual to experience increased overall tranquility. Yoga has been shown to improve happiness, optimistic outlook, focus, efficiency, relaxation, and self confidence. Consistent practice has also been shown to increase levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter partially responsible for mood, sleep, and appetite. Conversely, yoga is shown to reduce anxiety, irritability, stress, fatigue, aggressiveness, anger, and fear. Individuals experiencing stress, insomnia, anxiety, or depression are especially likely to benefit from yoga.
As a form of exercise, yoga is effective at improving flexibility, building muscle strength, and developing balance. It is also very beneficial for cardiovascular health! While practicing yoga, an individual may experience lowered breathing and heart rates, resulting in lower blood pressure and increased blood flow. Yoga increases red blood cell count, allowing more oxygen to circulate to your cells, and causes blood to become thinner, thus reducing risk of heart attack and stroke caused by blood clots.
What should I eat before and after a yoga practice?
Before yoga, eat a carb-filled snack! This snack will fuel your body during your workout. Try to choose a 100 calorie snack which is primarily carbs. ½ apple, ¼ cup of beans, a slice of whole grain toast, or a few whole grain crackers will do the trick!
If your yoga practice features strenuous strength training, try to eat a protein filled snack after your practice. Greek yogurt, egg, and veggies & hummus are great options.
Ways to shake up your yoga practice!
Here are a few fun things you might try to change up your usual yoga routine!
GOGA aka Goat Yoga! You heard right - take a yoga class with a bunch of cute little goats. During the class, a goat might just climb onto your back. And you might get some adorable snuggles too!
Hiking yoga! Try hiking to your yoga site and let nature lead your practice. Yoga Hike is a company which leads yoga hikes all around the Austin area, including a monthly full moon hike. Sanctuary Yoga leads yoga hikes around the Austin green belt.
Kitty Yoga! Have you heard of Austin’s Blue Cat Cafe? Here you can grab a bite to eat, cuddle with some cute kitties… and take yoga classes with their adorable rescue felines!
Try a new stule of yoga! Have you tried a new style of yoga recently? Consider hot yoga, kundelini yoga, or maybe acro yoga for our more adventurous readers!
Paddleboard yoga! What could be more relaxing than doing yoga while floating on the water. This form of yoga definitely challenges your core strength! A must try if you're looking for a change in scenery from your routine practice.
Free yoga around Austin
Yoga on the Plaza (Whole foods on 6th and Lamar): Black Swan yoga hosts a free class at Whole Foods during select days in the spring.
Cherrywood Coffeehouse: Free yoga class Monday through Friday at 8 a.m.
Wells Branch Community Library: Free classes on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of every month from 10:45 to 11:45 a.m.
Donation based yoga in Austin! Pay what you can.