10 Reasons You Should Take Up Yoga

Woman in child's pose at yoga

Looking for a new hobby or a way to enhance your health? Yoga might be the answer! Practiced since 3000 BC and beloved by millions worldwide, yoga offers numerous benefits. Stephen Virtue, Fitness Experience Manager at Total Fitness, shares 10 surprising benefits of yoga to help you see why it’s so effective and decide if it’s the right fit for you.


Two women practicing yoga in class. Female trainer and senior woman sitting in lotus position meditating.

Pic: iStockphoto

If you’ve ever found yourself with a sore back or aching shoulders from being hunched over a desk all day, yoga could be the release you need. It offers stretches like shoulder flossing to release tension and improve mobility, especially for office workers. Regular stretching improves flexibility which in turn reduces the chances of overuse injuries and injury through muscular strain. Maintaining a good level of flexibility will certainly help you stay healthy, not to mention independent, later in life.


If you’re prone to colds, headaches and sore throats then chances are you’re doing one, if not all, of the following; working long hours, not getting enough sleep, or burning the candle at both ends. Spending a little time each day practising gentle yoga has been proven to lower stress levels, which in turn gives your body space to breathe and recover, instead of working around the clock. Deep breathing during yoga ensures enough oxygen is being sent to the parts of your body that need it most, whilst many of the poses increase blood flow to the sinuses, helping to ease congestion.


Studies have found that experiencing a meditative state through practising yoga can thicken the cerebral cortex – the part of the brain that controls awareness, attention, memory, thoughts and language – when practised over a long period of time. Exercising the brain through meditation in this way is shown to improve brain performance in those key cerebral cortex areas and aids learning new skills. So, in essence, yoga could actually make you smarter!


Ever wished there was a quick way to relieve bloating? Yoga poses can be used to reduce bloating quickly and efficiently. Activities that improve blood circulation and stretch out the body will help to release the build-up of gas and fluids in the body. Simple yoga poses can prove very effective for this. Try lying on your back and hugging your knees into your chest to achieve a nice stretch and get that circulation moving.


Woman in child's pose at yoga

Pic: iStockphoto

Office workers often suffer from poor posture and shallow breathing due to prolonged sitting. Yoga helps correct this by stretching the body, particularly opening the chest for deeper, healthier breathing. Practising regularly strengthens the lungs and improves posture for a better quality of respiration, even when away from the mat. Deep breathing in yoga boosts oxygen delivery to vital areas and poses improve sinus circulation, easing congestion.


Sweating through exercise is a good way to cleanse the skin of nasties, so why not take it to the next level with hot yoga, like Bikram or Vinyasa, to up the ante? Practising at a higher temperature demands more energy and encourages the body to sweat more, which has fantastic detoxifying benefits as it removes toxins, grime and bacteria from the pores. It also stimulates blood flow to the skin cells which in turn gives the skin a natural, radiant glow.


Not into hot yoga? Explore cooler options like Hatha yoga, ideal for beginners and relaxation with its focus on breathing and simple poses. For a more energetic session, try Ashtanga or Power yoga, which provide a core workout while promoting a meditative state. There are plenty of different types of yoga so you’re sure to find a style that suits your individual needs, you’ll find one that suits your needs at your local health club or gym.


The 21st century is fast-paced. We could all benefit from slowing down and taking a little time for ourselves here and there. Spending half an hour to an hour practising yoga a few times a week is a great way to slow down and be mindful of our surroundings. Yoga encourages those practising to elongate the spine, open out the chest and breathe deeply and slowly to increase oxygen supply to the brain. Sitting and breathing in this way helps us to enter a mindful state, increasing attentiveness and reducing stress.


Group of mature people practising yoga at health club

Pic: iStockphoto

Yoga classes like the ones offered at Total Fitness are a great way to meet new people or commit to regular face-to-face time with friends. Practising with a friend or meeting someone at your local class will help you commit to that regular exercise regime as it gives you a reason to not skip your practice – you can hold each other accountable for showing up to class each week.


Historically, there has been a stigma surrounding yoga, with many believing it to be a woman’s activity. However, a recent study by Total Fitness concluded revealed that this sentiment is outdated and there is in fact a significant percentage of men who have practised or would like to practise yoga – 34% to be exact.

Grab a mat, get signed up and start your yoga journey today.

Total Fitness is the leading mid-market health club in the north and provides more ways to get fit, stay in shape, and more support to keep members focused. With 17 health clubs across the North of England and Wales, Total Fitness provides a full-service fitness offering; guided by knowledgeable and supportive fitness teams, the brand works hard to meet the individual needs of its members.

For more information, please visit: www.totalfitness.co.uk

Moira Chisholm

I'm the Health Editor on My Weekly and am always interested to hear what's new in this fascinating field. I also deal with the gardening, shopping pages, general features, our website content and the Ask Helen problem page. I have a special interest in Christmas content because I'm on the team for Your Best Ever Christmas Magazine, too!