6 reasons you should consider stretching yourself fit with yoga

18 June 2017 - 16:26 By Matthew Savides And Suthentira Govender
People take part in a yoga session at the amphitheatre lawns at North Beach on June 18, 2017 in Durban ahead of the International Day of Yoga on June 21.
People take part in a yoga session at the amphitheatre lawns at North Beach on June 18, 2017 in Durban ahead of the International Day of Yoga on June 21.
Image: AFP PHOTO / RAJESH JANTILAL

The Durban beachfront was on Sunday morning awash with the sights and sounds of yogis stretching and posing and shaping their bodies.

They were taking part in an event ahead of International Day of Yoga on Wednesday‚ which will see thousands of yogis across the globe celebrating what they believe is a complete form of exercise.

TimesLIVE spoke to two parents and one yoga instructor about why people should do yoga:

1. To bond with your family

Michael Dalton‚ who lives in England and does regular yoga sessions with his daughter‚ Beth‚ said he grew incredibly close to his little one when she started copying him as he did his daily yoga session. His Instagram account - @dangermike101 – is awash with uber-cute pictures and videos of Beth copying his every move.

“The main benefit with Beth doing yoga is that she actually wants to do it. Sometimes she will ask me instead of the other way around. It’s definitely given us an extra bond‚” Dalton said.

New mom‚ fitness enthusiast and trainer Lisa Raleigh‚ agrees.

“Mom and baby yoga lets me bring Bella to my exercise sessions‚ giving me the best of both worlds. This practice modifies traditional yoga moves to accommodate holding and rocking your baby - and the result is plenty of quality time with baby that also earns you a gentle and restorative workout‚” she said.

A young woman takes part in a yoga session at the amphitheatre lawns at North Beach.
A young woman takes part in a yoga session at the amphitheatre lawns at North Beach.
Image: AFP PHOTO / RAJESH JANTILAL

2. You’ll feel better – and not just physically

Johannesburg-based Yoga Works instructor Steven Heyman said he feels like a completely different person after doing yoga for the last nine years.

“Before becoming a full-time yoga teacher I was working in the corporate world and yoga really helped me to stay healthy‚ calm and strong in that demanding environment. Physically‚ my body feels much stronger and mobile than when I was 9 years younger. And perhaps‚ unexpectedly for me‚ the greatest benefits have been mentally - being able to respond more skilfully to situations and to feel more at ease under any circumstances‚” he said.

3. You’ll be able to touch your toes… and more

Dalton said flexibility was one of the biggest benefits for him.

“It's weird to think that three years ago I couldn't touch my toes! I didn't think it was even possible with my long legs… It’s surprising how much flexibility we lose over the years growing up if we don't use it. The more flexible you are the less prone you are to injury‚ especially if you do other sports. Yoga should be the ground work for all sports‚” he said.

Heyman said “freedom and ease of movement” was a definite plus.

4. It’s great for your post-baby body

“Post-natal yoga classes are designed to accommodate and strengthen your new body after baby‚” Raleigh said. “Yoga generally improves core strength‚ posture and pelvic floor muscles‚ and these modified classes focus on these aspects even more than the traditional practice.”

Group yoga at the amphitheatre lawns at North Beach.
Group yoga at the amphitheatre lawns at North Beach.
Image: AFP PHOTO / RAJESH JANTILAL

5. You don’t need a gym membership

“I don't like the gym environment‚” said Dalton. “This is something I can do by myself in my living room and see great benefits - even if it's only for 15 minutes a day!”

He said that gym work might result in creating useful muscle‚ but “most yogis aren't big and muscled - but they are able to show feats of strength that most weightlifters can't get anywhere near!”

6. It’ll set you up for the rest of your life

Heyman believes that yoga is a lifestyle.

“This is a practice you can do for the rest of your life. You can get to know yourself better (both your enormous potential and current limitations). Absolutely everyone can benefit from a regular yoga practice… Everyone can find a yoga style and teacher that suits them‚” he said.

Raleigh said this was true not just for adults‚ but also for babies.

“With most great habits‚ the earlier in life we start the better. The same goes for exercise. Including your baby in your workouts introduces them to exercise and activity from a young age‚ normalising it as they grow‚” she said.

- TimesLIVE