What connects LeBron James, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Sonny Bill Williams, and the entire 55-man strong Welsh rugby squad?

 They all practice yoga!

While it may come as a surprise, this ancient discipline isn’t just a favorite among sporting legends and film stars (Chris Hemsworth is a big fan too!) for its physical advantages, but also for its remarkable benefits for mental well-being.

The focus on breathing and meditation in yoga is incredibly beneficial for calming and centering the mind, especially for individuals dealing with depression and anxiety. Additionally, yoga aids in the release of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical linked to improved mood and reduced anxiety. Moreover, it can decrease activity in the limbic system, the brain region responsible for emotions, resulting in better stress response.

Several small-scale studies have even indicated that yoga can be beneficial for individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when used alongside other treatments.

Additionally, the practice can:

Want to give it a try yourself but not sure how to? Here are our top tips to help you get started:

Can I do yoga?

Yoga is accessible for everyone, but as with any exercise it’s wise to consult with your doctor or a health professional if you have had a recent injury, just to check that you are safe to practice. The great thing about yoga is that there are lots of modifications that can be made to make each move safe for you – a good yoga teacher will be able to advise you.

If you are new to yoga, begin with a gentle practice and slowly build up your flexibility.

What do I need to practice yoga?

Yoga is typically practiced in bare feet on a yoga mat (although you could just use a blanket if you are just starting out at home). There’s plenty of yoga clothes that you can purchase too, but essentially all you need is something you feel comfortable in.

Sometimes yoga will use things like blocks and straps, but you can simply use a pillow or a blanket to replicate the blocks and something as simple as a tie or scarf to replicate the straps!

Generally if you attend a yoga class, rather than doing it at home, everything will be provided for you.

How do I find a class?

Most gyms in your area will have a yoga class and usually there will be a beginner class on offer. If your budget doesn’t stretch to classes, or you feel too anxious to start off in a group setting, then there are some great online classes that you can do. Yoga With Adrienne is a brilliant resource on You Tube for practices at all levels.

How often should I practice?

The beautiful thing about yoga is that you can complete a session in as little as 15 minutes – perfect if you want to do a quick online session before or after work. Ideally try to practice at least three times a week to feel real benefits. As with any form of exercise, the more that you practise the greater the benefits!

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