The Benefits Of Yoga For Physical Fitness

What are the benefits of yoga for physical fitness?

If you’ve ever attended a yoga class, you are well familiar with the blissful emotional benefits of regular yoga practice.

Whenever I step out of a yoga class I feel so relaxed and serene. It’s almost the same feeling that you have when you’ve come back from holiday.

 

But did you know that yoga also has numerous physical benefits? Recent research shows that yoga may also improve muscular strength, lung capacity and aerobic capacity – 3 of the main indicators of physical fitness.

The benefits of yoga for physical fitness

Yoga is very beneficial for your physical fitness levels. Not only does it reduce stress levels, but it also makes your whole body fitter and ensures longevity.

 

In a recent study, the University of California at Davis tested the muscular strength,cardiorespiratory fitness and lung function of students after 8 weeks of regular yoga practise.

 

After 8 weeks the student’s muscular strength increased by 31%, flexibility by 188% and VO2max by 7%. This just proves that yoga is very beneficial for increasing physical fitness levels.

Yoga can increase your respiratory fitness levels

What is respiratory fitness?

Respiratory fitness refers to the fitness of your heart, lungs and blood vessels.

The better your respiratory fitness levels, the lower your risk for numerous diseases like heart diseases, cancer and diabetes.

 

It’s measured by your VO2max (maximum oxygen intake), a technical term that indicates how efficiently oxygen enters your lungs and is used by your muscles. The more fit you are, the more efficiently your body transports and uses oxygen.

The evidence and benefit

A recent study done at the Ball State University looked at how 15 weeks of twice-weekly yoga classes affected the lung capacity of 287 college students. At the end of the students all of the students involved, including athletes, asthmatics, and smokers showed a significant improvement in lung capacity by the end of the study.

 

Yoga poses may increase your lung capacity by improving the flexibility of your rib area,back and  shoulders, allowing your lungs to expand more efficiently. Correct yoga breathwork may further boost your lung capacity and VO2max; making it very important for you to also practise breathing.

Regular Yoga sessions may improve your muscular strength

What is muscular fitness?

Your muscular fitness levels refers to your muscular strength (how heavy and object you can lift) and muscular endurance (for how long you can lift it). Increased muscular fitness increases your balance and coordination and keeps your body strong and fit.

The evidence and benefit

Many yoga poses, particularly standing poses, inversions and balancing poses builds a lot of strength because they require sustained contractions of many large and small muscles. And many of the poses are hold for an increased time which increases this training effect. I’ve also seen the proof of this benefit in my own yoga practise. The more I practise yoga, the longer I am able to hold a pose and with less effort.

Yoga is very effective for increasing flexibility and balance

What is flexibility fitness?

Flexibility is an important indicator of your fitness levels and health. It increases your range of motion, lengthens your muscles and prevent stiffness of connective tissue. Increased flexibility promotes optimal movement of your knees, shoulders, elbows, spine and other joints. Loss of flexibility is often associated with an increased risk of injury and pain.

The evidence and benefit

Yoga stretches the muscles and is excellent for increasing your flexibility. As an added benefit, your muscles responds to stretching by becoming larger and capable of extracting more oxygen. This lead to increased muscle strength and endurance.

Conclusion

As you can see, yoga holds many more benefits than just stress release. To fully benefit from these benefits and to increase your fitness levels, make sure that you take a regular yoga class at least twice a week. Look for classes that includes a balance of poses along with breath work and meditation for maximum benefit. I particularly prefer Iyengar yoga as it’s a nice mixed balance of yoga poses, breath work and meditation.

 

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