Are there any benefits to practicing yoga once a week?

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Answered by: Lauren Ashley, An Expert in the Yoga, Pilates and Flexibility Category
For many dedicated practitioners, yoga is a lifestyle that includes daily practice and meditation. Committing to a daily yoga practice is ideal and commendable. But it may also be an unattainable goal and a recipe for failure. Both seasoned yogis and beginners may choose to practice yoga once a week.

Numerous benefits can be realized when practitioners approach their practice as simply a weekly gift. Often that commitment will grow with time. Yoga often does become a daily routine as it creates an addictive sense of general well-being and balance that permeates all aspects of life.

Even weekly yoga practice perpetuates healthy habits that promote weight-loss and improved body image. Students rarely leave their yoga mat craving a double meat cheeseburger. Occasional yoga practice will encourage discipline that ripples into the rest of the week. As the mind tunes in, it synchronizes with the body. Yoga practitioners immediately notice healthy cravings, improved posture, and deeper breathing. As yoga becomes constant, life begins to flow towards an improved balance.

Practice yoga once a week for increased flexibility. Full range of motion begins to deteriorate over time. While people are born with flexibility, sedentary lifestyles wreak havoc on joints and muscles. The wonderful flexibility achieved through yoga has numerous benefits. Practice increases circulation, stimulates blood flow, and increases joint lubrication. Yogic stretching also promotes healing and enhances mobility. Various poses like the basic twist and cat/cow rejuvenate the spine and actually massage internal organs.

Weekly yoga practice is the perfect way to build muscle strength, decreasing risk factors for diseases such as osteoporosis and osteopenia. Hitting the mat once a week establishes a foundation for dense, healthy bones. Poses like Warrior I and Warrior II actually promote new bone growth. Yoga requires practitioners to bear their own body weight which is a natural way to stress the bones, forcing them to build density. Most weight-bearing exercises, like weight lifting, can be harsh on the joints. Yoga is rigorous but restorative.

Mental clarity is an instant yoga benefit that lingers even after practice. Most people do not find quiet moments in their days to connect with their breath and bodies. Committing to one calm hour each week develops coping skills, alertness, and creativity.

A recent Harvard study indicates that yoga practice actually increases the brain's gray matter. The affected part of the brain regulates emotions and stress.This study suggests that yoga results in heightened brain activity that lasts long after students leave yoga class. Once weekly yoga practice can actually retrain the brain to respond more effectively under pressure.

Yoga is definitely physical exercise that tones the body and promotes weight-loss. But more importantly, yoga offers an empowering escape from the world's competitive rat race. It should be approached without any inhibitions regarding ability or frequency. A weekly practice is the perfect introduction to poses. As the benefits radiate, most yogis will find themselves back on the mat again and again enjoying the bliss that comes from taking a moment to slow down and tune inward.

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