Twenty four million people can’t be wrong. That’s how many U.S. adults practiced yoga in 2013, according to a survey from the Sports & Fitness Industry Association noted by USA Today. What’s behind the growth in this 5,000 year-old spiritual practice, which today is now as popular as golf? In a nutshell – yoga is about feeling good from head to toe. As it turns out, Yoga meets all the four requirements the U.S. Department of Aging recommends for good physical health: strength, flexibility, balance and aerobic capacity.
And the benefits don’t stop there. WebMD notes that Yoga helps improve posture, a result of being stronger and more flexible. It’s good for your heart because it’s known to lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate. The benefits of Yoga aren’t all physical, ether. Yoga involves paying attention to your breathing, which can help you relax and help reduce stress.
In “Yoga for Massage Therapists and Bodyworkers,” Karina Braun points out that Yoga in particular is great for self-care for massage therapists. That’s because it helps to strengthen and condition the larger and stabilizing muscles of the back and to open the shoulder to lessen the risk of certain injuries such as deltoid or rotator cuff strains.
It’s easy to get started with Yoga
Considering that Yoga requires no expensive equipment – just a mat – it’s easy and inexpensive to get started. Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular types of Yoga. You can explore them more fully to decide which is best for you or to recommend to your spa or massage practice clients.
Hatha yoga includes postures and breathing exercise to help bring peace to the body and mind. While there are many variations of Hatha yoga, the basic moves are relatively gentle and slow. It’s considered good for someone starting out in yoga.
Consistency is the hallmark of Bikram yoga. Bikram repeats the same 26-pose postures and two breathing techniques to boost the meditation factor. Also the room is heated to 105 degrees F. with 40 percent humidity.
Vinyasa yoga involves synchronized breathing. It consists of a series of poses in which you inhale or exhale as you move from one to the next. The movements are very smooth and flowing so that this type of yoga is sometimes referred to as Vinyasa Flow or flow yoga.
Ashtanga yoga is similar to Vinyasa in that it involves synchronizing breathing with a series of poses. There are six series of poses in total, increasing in difficulty as you move from the primary series on. Ashtanga yoga is vigorous and fast-paced. A strong body, calm mind and improved circulation are considered the benefits.
Power yoga is an active style that was adapted from Ashtanga but doesn’t stick to the same sequence of poses. Considered to be a ‘gym yoga,” classes vary widely. Power yoga emphasizes strength and flexibility.
Since your clients depend on you taking good care of your physical – as well as emotional – well-being, maybe it’s time you “hit the mat.” The yoga mat, that is.