I recently signed up to an introductory month of membership in our new Castlebar Swimming Pool Complex and was very happy to have yoga and Pilates classes included in the deal. After just recently attending “Woman on Fire” educational weekend in Brighton, UK almost every speaker highlighted that stress is detrimental to our health and equilibrium…It was the recurring theme throughout the 2 days of lectures and exercise sessions. SELF- CARE was the buzz word there as a result.
An epidemic of stress is upon us – google now reports that anxiety is being searched on its engine twice as often in the last number of years. The big message that I took home from this education was that our stress hormones are in overdrive. Think high levels of cortisol and adrenaline.
Yoga was mentioned on numerous occasions at “WOMAN ON FIRE” as a go to exercise type to give instant benefits to alleviate many stress issues. Of course we as physios are extremely happy also to have all the movement benefits as well. There are numerous references in the medical journals our speakers informed us to the many health benefits of yoga. These include: increasing spinal flexibility and stability, relaxing body and mind, strengthening and toning of the entire body, flushing out toxins, boosting immunity and promoting restful sleep.
I was amazed at my class on my second week – to walk in to the lovely studio and observe that about 15 gym members were already lying calmly on their mats in their own peaceful space before the class had even begun. People were gifting themselves the time to relax and slow down. Albeit the studio is beautiful with its new wooden floors, dim lighting and burning tea- light candles – not to mention the scent of essential oils as well for bonus points.
Yoga is so beneficial for the autonomic nervous system. The restore and renew aspect of that system is called the parasympathetic nervous system and is strengthened particularly when we slow our breath down. In these classes there is continuous reference to the breath in particular by breathing in and out through the nose which is considered superior to in nose and out mouth more traditionally used in other exercise classes such as Pilates and circuit training.
Now, at the end of the month of yoga I am inspired to keep many of the poses and sequences up myself at home. From the plank, to the downward facing dog, child’s pose and warrior stretch. It is all good! I really enjoyed managing to perform the sun salutation flow sequence – quite a popular movement flow in the world of yoga. What was really positive at the end of each class I attended was the closing off with the Namaste greeting “I bow to you”. Each instructor routinely bowed to the class from the heart chakra and thanked the members for sharing their energy. This was a great way to spread compassion and good vibes between gym goers thus building a sense of community.