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7 Reasons You Should Try Yoga This Weekend

7 Reasons You Should Try Yoga This Weekend

Yoga can improve your mind and body. Visiting a yoga class won’t just help you get fit and flexible. You can also expect to reduce stress, increase concentration, and improve your posture. Need more convincing? Check out these 7 reasons to try yoga this weekend.

1. Low impact, beginner-friendly exercise

Unfortunately, most people associate exercise with punishment. Running on the treadmill is something you do because you “ate too much and need to burn it off.” This attitude is unhealthy and unnecessary. Yoga is a great way to teach yourself that exercise is about treating your body (not torturing it). 

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2. Stress relief

A study published by Oxford University Press discovered that yoga could be an effective intervention for reducing stress and back pain at work. Study participants were split in to two groups of 37: the first performed a 50-minute yoga session every week for eight weeks and received a 20-minute DVD for home practice, while the control group received no intervention. The yoga group reported significantly lower stress, back pain, sadness, and hostility than the control group. They also reported feeling self-assured, attentive, and serene. Click here to build your own stress-reducing yoga routine.

3. Increased concentration and motivation

A study by the American College of Sports Medicine found that yoga can improve concentration, enhance motivation, and reduce anxiety within two months. Study participants completed three assessments during the second and ninth week of the study to measure concentration, motivation, and anxiety. According to the study authors, the improvements in all three areas were dramatic.” This should come as no surprise, since yoga is regarded as a mindful discipline in the East.

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Another study by the University of Illinois that appeared in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health found that yoga can improve focus and brain function. Thirty study participants took tests measuring their ability to focus, retain, and use information. One group performed aerobic exercise (walking on a treadmill), while others participated in a yoga class that concluded with a brief meditation and deep breathing. Those who performed yoga had a higher ability to focus, learn, and retain new information than those who walked.

4. Better balance and stability

A study published by the Department of Veteran Affairs in the journal Stroke found that yoga improves motor function and balance after having a stroke. Three-quarters of all stroke survivors suffer from falls (which could break bones or end lives), so this is welcome news. Try out the yoga balances for beginners below if you’d like to move with grace.

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5. Improved flexibility

A more flexible body capable of moving through its full range of motion is less susceptible to injury. Don’t worry: you don’t have to stand on your head or perform a split. If you’re the opposite of flexible, try out these yoga poses for beginners.

6. Confident posture

Spending your days sitting in front of a computer is a surefire way to wreck your posture (not to mention all the other risks that come with excessive sitting). Perform this quick yoga workout if you’d like to have a perfect posture that allows you to walk with swagger.

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7. Get a good night’s sleep

A study by the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School observed the effects of yoga on patients suffering from insomnia. They practiced a 45-minute yoga sequence, including deep-breathing and meditation, every night for eight weeks. Participants reported statistically significant improvements in sleep efficiency, total sleep time, total wake time, number of awakenings, and quality of sleep. Click here to check out 10 yoga poses that will help you get to sleep. If you’d like more sleep hacks guaranteed to increase your Z’s, click here.

Have you ever tried yoga? If so, what’s your favorite pose? If you haven’t, why not?

More by this author

Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on May 22, 2019

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

1. Cat Camel Stretch

Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

Here’s a video to guide you through:

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2. Go for a Walk or a Run

This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

3. Jumping Jacks

Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

4. Abductor Side Lifts

Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

5. Balancing Table Pose

This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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    6. Leg Squats

    Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

    Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

    The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

    7. Push Ups

    You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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    An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

    Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

    This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

    8. Bicycle Crunches

    There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

    Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

    9. Lunges

    Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

    Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

    This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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    10. Bicep Curls

    You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

    Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

    Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

    Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

    Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

    These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

    You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

    Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

    More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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