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The Health Benefits of Yoga

Yoga has numerous physical and mental health benefits and is practised by millions the world over. However, as well as helping people with overall health benefits of body strengthening, weight loss, increased flexibility, improved posture and breathing, relaxation and reduction in stress, and increased focus, yoga can also help those with physical and mental health problems to improve.

A recent study found that yoga can help stroke victims to recover their sense of balance. Stroke victims are often given short-term rehabilitation to help them with problems caused by partial paralysis and reduced mobility. Yet long-term rehabilitation is not often provided because it is assumed that the brain will no longer be able to reprogram itself, as well as the costs involved in providing such a service. The study looked at 47 stroke victims, two-thirds of whom attended an eight-week yoga course six months or more after suffering their stroke, and the other third following the usual care plan. It was found that those who attended the yoga course had improved balance, less fear of falling, and were more independent and happier than those in the other group. More and more elderly people are also turning to yoga because it helps them to increase their mobility and reduce old age aches and pains. The breathing techniques taught help to control pain management and just attending classes can have enormous social and emotional benefits for older people too. Yoga can have health benefits for people of all ages. It can help to lower blood pressure and slow down the heart rates, giving a reduced risk of heart disease or stroke, as well as providing a boost to the immune system. There are benefits for those who suffer from chronic conditions such as asthma, back pain and arthritis, and it is also thought that yoga can help sufferers from insomnia and MS.  Mental benefits include feeling less stressed through the breathing techniques, and yoga practitioners also often say that they have increased concentration and focus. As with all exercise, practitioners also feel a lift in their mood, through higher oxygen levels in the brain. Convinced that yoga is something you should be doing? Before grabbing your house keys and heading straight out to a class, you’ll need to get prepared. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know any yoga poses already (just don’t sign up for an advanced group!), but you will need to get yourself some yoga essentials, including yoga exercise mats and appropriate yoga clothing. There is nothing to stop you from wearing regular workout clothes to a yoga class, of course, but you will find specially designed women’s yoga clothing more comfortable and practical. In order to be able to properly focus your mind you should be completely comfortable. The mat will help with this, as will clothing made from soft fabrics which allow you complete freedom of movement to perform the different poses. The fabric should also be made from an appropriate material to wick away moisture and keep your body at a regulated temperature.

Sources: www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9430292/Yoga-helps-stroke-patients-recover-balance.html

www.telegraph.co.uk/health/elderhealth/9013540/How-yoga-can-help-fight-ageing-aches.html

www.webmd.com/balance/guide/the-health-benefits-of-yoga?page=3

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