Yoga is the full body workout you need
18 May 2018 HEALTH & WELLNESS
By: Natasha Archary
Yoga’s origins can be traced back to ancient India over five thousand years ago but some researchers believe the practice may be up to ten thousand years old. At first, yoga retreats were primarily said to be for spiritual upliftment, connecting body and mind to restore balance. More recently, health researchers found that the benefits of practicing yoga go beyond that.
It is fast becoming a preferred full body workout for many practicing yogis the world over. Demanding absolute control, yoga is a perfect way to slim down, get strong and relax. There are still sceptics (as with everything in life) who feel yoga is not equivalent to a workout. You don’t burn enough calories for it to be considered an exercise and many find it to be nothing more than a prolonged stretching routine, post workout.
If you’ve never tried yoga you would probably be amongst the nay-sayers. By nature, I hate comparisons. Everything has its pros and cons in my books. When it comes to workouts, I learnt a long time ago that you should always pick a routine that challenges you. For me, it’s a fusion of cardio and yoga. I have a love-hate relationship with running but it does wonders for my curves and tones me up pretty fast.
Having installed a training club app a few months back to track my runs, it gave me the option to pair my workouts with a variety of yoga routines. The last time I practiced yoga was five years ago when I was pregnant. It was the only exercise that I was able to fit in because it helped with the pregnancy fatigue and uplifted me afterwards. It kept me healthy throughout my pregnancy and I didn’t put on an excessive amount of weight. I then fell out of my regular routine, because motherhood consumes you, and was glad to have been given the option to get yoga into my daily routine once again.
Can I tell you that I have never felt better. The runs alone were killing me. Straining my stinging calf and quad muscles and causing me to run out of steam. I dreaded my runs and as the mornings turned bitter cold, could not bring myself to get out of bed and commit to my average three km run around my neighbourhood. Until I included yoga into my workout plan.
I have never felt better, looked leaner or been this strong in my life before. I still have a long way to go before I reach my goal weight but I’m not too concerned about that at the moment. What’s important to me is to feel strong and energised. I need to be able to keep up with my little energiser bunny who keeps me on my toes. So while the runs kept my heart pumping at the optimum fat burning rate, yoga worked me out by calming my heart rate, helping me with my breathing techniques which just made my runs easier. It also toned me in places I never knew I had.
I’m no yogi and am yet to master some of the core-centric poses and advanced sequences. My form may also not be entirely correct but what I find is that the more I fit in a yoga routine, the longer I can hold the poses. That alone shows improvement. As you may know, yoga is a workout that is centred around you managing your body weight whilst holding a pose. If you are able to lift your own body and stretch your limbs into “impossible” positions, then yoga is for you.
The hardest part of yoga is usually the lifestyle changes it inspires in you. Which is often what causes many to give it a miss. Above all the health benefits, yoga is a spiritual practice that was based heavily on a vegetarian diet. The concept was to live as clean and mindful a life as possible. You don’t have to, it is of course a decision you should make if it is something you want to do. You Non vegetarians can still practice yoga without making any conversions.
It is said that a vegetarian diet improves your ability to control your poses, posture and breathing. It also helps rid your body of all toxins from junk food and a heavy, meat-based diet. With all the processed nonsense going into our bodies, the eat clean, look lean concept is not an entirely new one. If you’re not ready to give up meat, you can aim to include more fresh produce into your diet. Juicing your veggies and fruits and eat bigger amounts of salads to start.
As with every workout plan, before you get started consult you doctor and get the all clear. There are a number of video tutorials on Youtube to get started with. Choose a beginners 15-minute yoga routine to start with. It will teach you the basic yoga poses which you will often return to once you start a full yoga workout routine.
One thing I do know is that I am the calmest I’ve ever been and I will be continuing with yoga as a big part of my daily routine. I fit in a quick 15 minutes in the mornings and after my evening run, I get into a full body 45 minute yoga routine. It takes time, so don’t expect to see a difference immediately. Stick to it and practice, practice, practice.