Low impact, low injury, but huge on physical and mental benefits, it’s easy to see why this ancient exercise practice now has mainstream appeal
Story by Elena Antoniou
If you feel like everyone you know’s gotten bendier in the past year, there may be a logical explanation. According to Class Pass’s Wellness and Fitness Report (1*) online yoga participation jumped globally by 25 percent in 2020.
This, of course, can be chalked up to COVID-related restrictions on outdoor and studio exercises, but the question begs, why yoga? Why not online strength work or dance classes? Research led by the University of South Australia (*2) found that movement-based yoga significantly reduced depressive symptoms in people living with a range of mental disorders.
Of course, everyone’s mental health varies significantly in their lifetime, and this can be due to a wide range
of external circumstances, such as losing a job, separation, death of a loved one, or even being cooped up in your house for months on account of a global pandemic. In Australia, one in five people aged between 16-85 experience mental illness in any given year (*3). The most common types are depression, anxiety and substance abuse, and sadly this is only counting the people that are diagnosed.
Knowing what you can do to manage your own mental health is so important. Could yoga be the exercise to manage life’s curve balls? Speak to most yogis and they’ll tell you that yoga is the elixir of life, and that it helps establish a daily routine and dramatically relieves feelings of anxiety and depression. It’s also an ideal exercise regime to practice in the comfort and privacy of your own home.
The ancient yogis gave us a practical but effective roadmap for living our best lives, and asanas (the act of moving your body in yoga shapes) are just one element of the yoga lifestyle. They are a great place to begin if you want to deepen your knowledge about yoga whilst managing stress levels and keeping your body flexible and injury-free.
Here are some of the tangible benefits of doing yoga practice. If done regularly, it:
- Improves your posture
- Increases your knowledge of your body
- Builds muscle strength (internal and external)
- Increases flexibility
- Increases circulation and blood flow
- Boosts metabolism
- Improves sleep
- Helps lymphatics and boosts immunity
- Improves bone health
- Can help reduce pain
(*3) Black Dog Institute
1. Living Flow Ashfield
5/6-8 Holden St, Ashfield
This is not just a studio but a thriving community, self-described as place to connect, feel grounded and be inspired. There are daily in-person and live-streamed classes, plus workshops throughout the year.
2. Wellness Local Yoga & Pilates
3/70 Tennyson Road, Mortlake
This studio offers a wide range of yoga classes by experienced teachers for all body types, stages of life and levels of experience, making it a great local option.
3. Total Yoga
138 Majors Bay Road, Concord
Run by Andrea, Naomi and Teresa, who have practiced yoga for many years, it offers classes including Restorative, Yin and Beginners, catering to a range of bodies and experience.
4. Balance Yoga Sydney
9 George Street, North Strathfield
Full of passionate teachers dedicated to helping students get the most out from their classes, this centre offers both in-studio and live-streamed classes, along with workshops and retreats.
Did you know?
Last October, the Australian Government doubled the number of Medicare-subsidised psychological therapy sessions per person each calendar year from 10 to 20. These extra sessions are for people experiencing severe or enduring mental health impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.