You would think that with the proliferation of yoga classes in Singapore, people will have an understanding of what yoga is.
Here are some common phrases heard when yoga is suggested as a fitness activity:-
- "I'm not flexible, I can't do yoga."
- "Yoga is for for ladies! I'm a guy, so it's not for me."
- "I don't need yoga, I already workout."
In reality, yoga is not only about flexibility — it can be a workout on its own, working on strength conditioning. Plus, you don't do yoga because you are flexible, you do yoga to become flexible.
So whether you're male or female, here are
5 Reasons Why You Need Yoga
1. Yoga Makes You Physically Stronger
Do you know that stress can cause you to fall ill? Especially when your immune system is weak.
One of the contributing factors of a strong immune system is physical health. Physical strength allows our body to handle stressful situations easily without falling sick.
The poses practiced in hatha classes build physical strength in the body's core. These are all the muscles from the neck to the toes—shoulders, back, arms, abs, obliques, gluteals, inner thighs, quads, calves. [If you think about the core of an apple, you'll get the idea of what the body's core means.]
When we have a strong core, we have a better sense of our body movement. So that we have better stability to prevent falls.
In yoga classes that focus on core strength, there will be ab-activation poses such as planks & crunches. We also incorporate the yogi push-up aka chaturanga dandasana, which is a variation of the push-up where the elbows are tucked close to the body & bent so that they point towards the toes instead of allowing them to point out sideways. The side plank and its variations work the upper arms and shoulders as well as the entire side body, including the abdominals and obliques.
Other core activating asanas include Pattita Tarasana aka Fallen Triangle, Eka Pada Vasisthasana aka One Legged Side Plank, Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana Three Legged Down Dog into Eka Pada Phalakasana Three Legged Plank, Uttkatasana aka Chair, Naukanasana aka Boat (transitioning from high to low for a few rounds).
All these poses will provide a good burn to your muscles for building a strong core.
2. Yoga Complements Other Fitness Activities
It may not seem obvious but yoga complements other fitness activities. Whether you are running, doing Cross Fit, lifting weights at the gym, rock climbing, swimming, doing MMA/ Muay Thai, calisthenics etc., yoga provides a balance to the active pounding that you're subjecting your body to.
Notice that your hamstrings are tight? Or perhaps your shoulders are sore? Maybe there's a slight ache in your lower back? Or your hips seem immobile?
Yoga has many poses that work on bringing more mobility to tight areas of your body. Once these parts are stretched out, you will experience more mobility in these areas. This is the so-called flexibility that comes with yoga—simply, creating more mobility in various areas of your body.
Interesting fact: Hatha and Yin yoga are great complements to the more active forms of yoga such as vinyasa flow, Power yoga, and yoga core classes.
3. Yoga Helps You Be Clear Headed
Yoga helps you to focus the mind on one thing at a time, which enables you to think clearly. This is useful for those who work in stressful environments or need to make many important decisions in a short time.
One of the simplest ways for focusing the mind is by bringing your attention to the breath. The breathing techniques taught in yoga classes quickly helps you to focus and clear your head. This is useful when practicing a variety of balancing poses such as Vriksasana Tree, Virabhadrasana Warrior, Sirsasana Headstand, and Bakasana Crow.
4. Yoga Helps You Be Calm
Becoming calm is a consequence of a clear mind—our emotions are triggered by our thoughts: when we allow our mind to think too much, it will run away & behave like a monkey!
Focusing the mind on one thing at a time will bring about a calmness in our hearts. This is what people call bliss, and many have experienced it on the yoga mat because yoga is about a balance of the body, mind & soul.
When you are calm, you're able to do more as you're mentally and emotionally stronger to power through stressful situations.
5. Yoga Helps You Achieve Balance
While one session does help you to achieve balance, it is not a constant state—humans are creatures of habit and we tend to fall back to old ways.
Thus, constant practice of yoga poses and breathwork is necessary, especially if you’re new to yoga. Just as it is with constant and regular practice in any skill to be able to acquire mastery in it.