(public domain photo from www.pixabay.com)
Periodically I hear from some hard core workout junkie that "yoga is just stretching!" It's said in a way to indicate that stretching is useless for fitness. There are two problems with that observation. First, it's not true that yoga is just stretching. I have taken triathletes through a very physical yoga workout and they couldn't keep up. Secondly, stretching is a very, very good thing and yoga is the most effective physical exercise at providing a good stretch for many muscle groups. Here are just a few benefits of stretching:
- Improved metabolism. This, in turn, will burn off calories offering another effective way of weight management.
- Reduce injury risk. Longer, flexible muscles, are healthier than tight, contracted ones.
- Increase range of motion. The women and men who are highly competitive marathoners take longer strides than most other runners. That means they take fewer steps to complete a race.
- Maintain flexibility. As you age you don't become rigid, inflexible, walking like a robot.
- Build muscle. Yes, stretching builds muscle especially a long held stretch. Try this: get into down dog and hold it for a mere seven minutes. It's not easy, but your muscles will get stronger for that pose. Then, get into warrior II and hold it for a mere seven minutes. You'll see what takes place.