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Active Matters

Oct 10 2013

Time Out for Rest and Relaxtion

by Gillian Reeves

Do you ever wonder where the day has gone and feel as if time moves so fast that you can’t believe it’s almost the end of the year again? We spend so much of our lives committed to time frames; thinking about what the next errand is that needs to be run, when a piece of work needs to be completed by or when you need to take your children to their next activity. Sometimes it can feel that life is a constant whirl wind of excitement, frenzy and activity that whilst a lot of it is routine, it can feel scary how quickly time passes.

Yoga to suit your abilities and fitness levels

A lot of the time we focus on pure exercise when we think about our fitness regime. Other huge factors that are linked to achieving fitness based goals such as losing weight and gaining muscles are also extremely important. Consider the amount of sleep you get and the quality of that sleep. Lack of sleep can lead to cortisol elevation, raising stress levels and negatively impacting hormonal balance, making it more difficult to increase lean muscle tissue and burn fat.

Rest and relaxation are just as important as the time you spend in the gym or in a class and the physical effort you put into your workouts. For a lot of us, it is difficult to switch off and chill out but before you reach for a glass of wine to help relax you, try out a Yoga class instead. 

Contrary to what some may think, Yoga is not just about lying on the floor! There are lots of fitness benefits from performing the asana or poses. Flexible strength of muscles and joints improves, as does overall mobility. Yoga classes may have an element of cardio respiratory training but not to the same intensity as a Group Cycle or Body Pump class. You will still walk out of a Yoga class feeling like you have done some exercise, but the great element that is unique to Yoga is the relaxation, breathing technique and meditation focus. 

If you are new to Yoga, there is no barriers to joining in a class. It really doesn't matter how flexible you are or if you don’t know the names of the poses or how to breathe in a yogic way. The instructor will guide you through the class making sure you are in the right positions and week after week, you will soon get used to the sequences and movement patterns.

There is science behind the benefits of relaxation and meditation when practised regularly. Better hormonal balance, improved mood and even less sleep is required for people who practice meditation and take time out to relax. We all know the great feeling of coming back from a holiday feeling completely refreshed and rejuvenated. 

Take time out for yourself to make sure you have some time factored into your week so you can forget about the past and future and concentrate on the present moment. Have a go at a Yoga class for some guidance and reap the benefits of lower stress levels and a strong flexible body.

Gillian Reeves is the National Group Exercise Manager at Virgin Active UK.