Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years, with historians suggesting that the first evidence of Yoga originates over 5000 years ago, with the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India, with the Term ‘Yoga’ originating from Sanskrit and meaning ‘Union‘.
Yoga brings together the body and mind, and for many their spiritualism too and has many physical and mental health benefits that can support children and adults of all ages and fitness levels.
Physical Benefits to Yoga!
- Improves Flexibility: Yoga encourages you to relax and stretch and it is thought that holding poses and stretches for several rounds of breath can increase overall pliability within the muscles supporting with a greater range of movement at the joint.
The Physical Education Curriculum requires children to develop strength, meaning that Yoga is an ideal activity to support with this curriculum need. However, for children that are not engaging with more competitive sports it also provides a great alternative to ensure that children are active. This increased flexibility is also very supportive for different sports and can support with injury prevention and makes Yoga a suitable element of most training programmes.
- Improves Strength: The different poses in Yoga target specific muscle groups and increase muscle tone and strength at each muscle for each pose. During a downward facing dog, the Gastrocnemius, Hamstrings, Latissimus Dorsi and Deltoids are all relaxed and stretched, whilst your Triceps, Rectus Abdominus, Quadriceps and Tibialis Anterior are all in engaged to allow the movement, developing strength at each muscle.
Strength is required for most team sports and we discuss this in depth in an earlier blog. Developing strength is also stated on the National Curriculum for PE.
- Increases Good Posture: Poses in yoga encourage proper alignment of the body, and so encourage healthy posture. In today’s world where many of us are sitting at a desk and living more sedentary lifestyles, it is important to take some time to focus on your posture.
This focus on alignment, also considers the position of the ankle, knee, hip and sacrum during its static poses, this means that the flexibility of the hip is increased and positive hip hinge movement is encouraged.
Better posture and positive hip hinge movement has also proven to benefit a range of activities such as running, cycling and swimming.
- Increases Heart Health: The lower intensity nature of yoga means that it lowers the heart rate and blood pressure which over time can benefit the heart by relieving some of the stress placed on it, as it is more effective in its role to the body
As previously discussed, the term ‘Yoga’, means ‘Union’ as the body and mind work together, and so as suggested, Yoga also has a range of Mental Health benefits too. These benefits are important for all members of society and display the positive impact that Yoga can have on all of our lives.
There is a growing epidemic of mental health issues with children. Schools across the UK now must deliver PSHE to help support children with this, amongst other things. Adults are under growing stress with the current pandemic and try to achieve a work life balance and for professional athletes, managing your mental wellness has also proven to have a positive impact on performance – just like allowing your body to rest, it is important to let your mind rest too.
BUT WHAT ARE THE MENTAL HEALTH BENEFITS TO YOGA?
It reduces Stress: There have been many studies into Yoga, that show that it reduces the secretion of cortisol into the body. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone and a reduction of this in the body can reduce the effects of stress.
It relieves Anxiety: It is yet to be proven, how Yoga relieves stress, but in the studies that have occurred have found that participants that have been struggling with anxiety feel less anxious after yoga. It is clear that concentrating on your breathing and finding a moment of peace can support in producing a sense of calmness.
The reduction in cortisol in the body may also Fight Depression. Further studies in this have resulted in conclusions being drawn that Yoga may be able to fight depression independently or as part of traditional treatment procedures.
Yoga can also create a sense of self-esteem and confidence. Gaining control of your body and time to be peaceful, can have a calming impact, and can give a sense of achievement for those that want to be active without playing sport.
YOGA FOR PROFESSIONAL SPORTS
Ryan Giggs, is currently the Welsh National Team Manager, but in his playing career, he became the most decorated British footballer in history, winning a total of 34 major trophies.
Giggs, managed to play in the Premier League until the age of 40 and he reportedly states that Yoga played a huge part in this success and providing him with the longevity required.
Giggs, started Yoga, before it became traditional part of the training programme for most top level sports. Stating that he started due to ongoing Hamstrings injuries and the impact of Yoga helped provide a resilience to this injury due to increased flexibility. He also states that the breathing activities associated with Yoga, was beneficial as it provided an escape from the demands of professional sport, providing the mind time to recover alongside the body.
For many, Yoga is seemed as something that individuals participate in instead of sport, but the testimony of Giggs, the changing attitude to it from other professional athletes and the benefits discussed in this blog, show that it is a hugely beneficial activity for day-to-day life, increased fitness and increased performance levels in sport.
Yoga is one of the many activites that can be found in our Total Home PE App
The Total Home PE App allows children to access fun and exciting activities that will not only contribute to the recommended 60 Active Minutes of activity every day, but also develops their physical literacy and confidence.
Your own branded app will support your children to:
- Develop Fundamental Movement Skills, such as Agility, Balance and Coordination
- Learn new Sports Skills, Dance and Yoga
- Improve overall wellbeing and fitness
- Understand emotional Wellbeing