Yoga for strength and flexibility
by Delight Yoga
Modern yoga culture places a heavy emphasis on the physical benefits of yoga, but there are so many more ways your practice can support your health! This article hopes to explain how different yoga styles can build strength and flexibility in both body and mind so you can live a longer, happier life.
How yoga builds strength and flexibility in the body
A regular yoga practice helps strengthen the body in a uniquely healthy way. Each asana, or posture, can be seen as a bodyweight exercise that helps build and tone your muscles. Not only are these movements effective, but they are also functional, using natural movement patterns that you use in everyday life Yoga is also low impact, so places less stress on your joints and promoting healthy aging. In addition to this, yoga can be customized to your level of fitness or ability - with options for both beginners and advanced students in each pose.
By incorporating both strengthening exercises with stretching, yoga is the perfect way to work on your flexiblity. Many people think that you need to be flexible to practice yoga - but yoga has been proven to increase flexibility, so a yoga class may just what you need! It's important to keep in mind that every body is different: everyone has different levels of flexibility based on their skeletal anatomy, physical histories, and activity levels. There is no universally 'perfect' version of a pose - your teacher will guide the class through each pose, but there are many modifications to match the pose to your body's current state.
Building strength and flexibility in the mind
There are many ways in which you can practice strength and flexibility on a mental level as well. Meditation is a practice that will encourage mental resilience through repeated efforts of focusing the mind. By bringing yourself back away from your thoughts and into the present moment, you will practice the act of finding peace regardless of external circumstances. This will help you stay strong in moments of strength throughout the course of your day.
What is Vinyasa Yoga?
Vinyasa Yoga is a dynamic and fun flow class, with a variety of postures (asanas) to strengthen the body and the mind. Vinyasa means ‘connection of movement and breath’, and in the class, you will find your teacher cueing both the breath and each movement. During Vinyasa classes, you will smoothly transition from pose to pose, while building physical strength, endurance, and flexibility. Through the use of creative sequences of asanas, the teacher will prepare you for more advanced postures like arm balances, hip openers, and backbends.
What is Ashtanga Yoga?
Ashtanga yoga is a living tradition that has been passed down through a lineage of teachers. The class consists of a fixed series of postures, which focus on increasing your strength, flexibility, and concentration of the mind. Over time, you will build a familiarity with the sequence, enabling you to explore the possibilities within each pose.
What is the difference between Ashtanga Led and Ashtanga Mysore?
In Ashtanga Led classes, there is a teacher present to guide you through the first part of the Primary Series of the Astanga Vinyasa Yoga System. We offer Astanga led classes at a “beginners level” for those who are new to the practice, and “all levels/experienced” for those who are physically more advanced in their practice.
Ashtanga Mysore is the traditional method for learning Astanga. Mysore is the name of a city in south India where Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois studied with his teacher T. Krishnamacharya and taught this yoga practice for many decades to students from his own home. Practitioners come in and work at their own pace and ability with the teacher's supervision, and new postures are slowly added to enable students to memorise the sequence and form a daily practice aligned with their individual needs.
It is a safe class for all levels, from beginners to long-term practitioners. The Mysore program at Delight Yoga runs six days a week - benefits come from regular attendance, and we encourage you to commit to a few days a week, working up to six days if and when possible.
The benefits of Vinyasa & Ashtanga Yoga
- Better mood
- Strengthened & toned muscles
- Improved heart health
- Increased bone density
- Reduced stress
- Improved sleep
- Greater flexibility
- Better connection to the breath
- Enhanced focus
- Decreased lower back pain
This content is written or curated by someone from within the Delight Yoga community.