Yoga is known as a series of stretches and poses that you do with breathing techniques. Health experts say that it offers the powerful benefits of exercise and almost anyone can do it, because it’s gentle, regardless of your age or fitness level. Though yoga is known as a physical practice in the West, it was originally intended to connect you to your mind, body and spirit.
According to Aniket Ukey, a fitness consultant and yoga trainer in Kigali, yoga is good for people who have certain health conditions such as arthritis or osteoporosis.
He says, yoga requires you to focus all your energy on each movement or pose as this can help you feel the mind and body work together. If it’s a little more vigorous, it can promote strength and stamina.
To him, yoga is different from other exercises as it requires more long-term dedication, this is because it doesn’t typically have quick physical results.
“Yoga eases stress and anxiety levels, it involves deep breathing that can help you relax. Yoga has been shown to be helpful for sleep in studies of older adults, pregnant women, and other groups. This exercise may ease chronic low back pain, help you function better, and enhance your quality of life,” he says.
The fitness consultant says that yoga has numerous benefits, as it maintains your nervous system, assists in relaxing, regulates your adrenal glands (endocrine glands that produce a variety of hormones), increases blood flow, protects the spine and improves bone health, and improves flexibility and so forth.
How often should you do yoga?
Ukey says that yoga can be done as often as you would like and as your body would allow. For people that are new to yoga, start slowly with one or two or three sessions a week and slowly expand your practice the way you’re able to handle it.
A large study of yoga practitioners revealed that people who practice at least five times a week have the best results in terms of overall health, sleep, low fatigue levels, and general sense of wellbeing. However, the study found that having a regular practice is more important than anything else in terms of individual benefits – so beginners may benefit as much from two weekly practices as more advanced students from doing yoga almost every day. The key is in yoga practice being a regular occurrence in your weekly schedule.
Ukey explains that if you are able to only practice once a week, you can still benefit from the exercise, although the effects may not be persistent like practicing two or three times per week.
How long or short should your practice be?
He also adds that you can start with two or three times a week, for an hour or an hour and a half each time. If you can only do 20 minutes per session, it’s also fine. ‘Time constraints shouldn’t hinder you.’
Experts say that the length of the practice depends on an individual, most people practice for 15 to 60 minutes. There is no right or wrong time. If you only have time for a short 10 to 15 minute practice before work or after a workout, that’s absolutely fine, go for it! They advise you to try our 15-minute morning routine. Or you can start your mornings by a simple three-exercise mobility routine. If you can then find another window of time in your day for a little more practice, that would be ideal.
The best time for yoga
You could wonder when the best time for yoga is, however, Ukey notes that the best time to do yoga really depends on you as everyone is different, and what’s most important is finding the time that works for you and your body. It is essential to make time you can stick with.
Practicing yoga in the morning is said to give you a boost of energy and clarity and help set the tone for the rest of your day. Practicing yoga in the afternoon before dinner can help you loosen up from a busy morning and also work up an appetite for your next meal. An evening yoga routine can relieve stress and promote relaxation to allow you to unwind. As such, yoga in the evening can be part of a calming bedtime ritual to help you prepare for sleep.
What to wear
Ukey says that any comfortable exercise pants or shorts will do, just make sure you avoid pants that don’t stretch, like jeans. It’s up to you to decide you need pants that are short, long, loose, or high-waist.
“You need a tight shirt that won’t slide down every time you bend over. You can be barefoot, unless you have a medical condition that would require you to wear shoes or socks,” he says.
The fitness consultant says that you should carry a mat, water bottle and towel to wipe yourself when you sweat, extra pair of clothes, some snacks and mostly, an open mind.