How Yoga Optimizes Mind and Body Health

How Yoga Optimizes Mind and Body Health

Many articles on Yoga discuss the psychological benefits of relaxation and the physical benefits of improved strength, balance, and flexibility, but few go into the details of how Yoga, through applying fundamental fitness and health concepts, attains such remarkable fitness benefits.

Specificity of Training

Most people don’t realize that more often than not, fitness training prepares us to do only those things we’re doing. In other words, using the elliptical has only marginal benefits for those who’d like to run faster or jump higher. Spending 20 minutes on the treadmill will have little crossover in terms of improved rowing ability. And general weightlifting will improve sports performance only to a certain extent without specific exercises designed to improve the techniques inherent to those sports.

Yoga is unique, in that it requires the body to experience a tremendous range of motion, and to exert force throughout that entire range. This sets Yoga aside from other types of fitness training, in that it really prepares the body to maximize strength at the greatest range of one’s flexibility. Because of this fact, Yoga really prepares the body healthy and balanced movement, in general, rather than concentrating on movements which isolate and improve specific skills.

Static Contraction Training

Most sports performance and weightlifting in general tend to focus on the concentric motion of an exercise to exert the greatest force, meaning that muscular force generally overcomes the action. Whether you’re curling a dumbbell, shooting a basketball, or throwing a baseball, you’re contracting your muscle through the concentric motion, and after, relaxing and lowering the weight.

Yoga on the other hand focuses on static contraction training using your own bodyweight. It is a fact that our muscles are capable of statically holding more weight than they are capable of lifting. Applying this principle, Yoga uses advanced static poses, which have the effect of overloading the muscles in their full range of motion, and improving functional strength.

Abdominal Breathing

The final benefit I’ll discuss, but surely not the final benefit to be had from practicing Yoga, is that of the vast benefits of deep Abdominal Breathing. Not only is this the foundation of a variety of meditations, it also has several health benefits worth mentioning. Deep abdominal breathing, in strengthening the muscles surrounding the lungs, improves oxygen uptake and blood oxygen levels. This has the wonderful benefit of increasing ones metabolism and allowing your body to burn body fat for energy much easier. That’s right, deep breathing can help you lose weight. It also improves blood pressure increases energy levels.

All of these benefits make a pretty strong case for Yoga as top choice for mind and body health.

About the author: Tom Fazio is the owner and operator of Martial Arts Hong Kong.  As a personal trainer and fitness blogger he writes on a variety of fitness topics, and regularly contributes to Yoga Hong Kong.

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