You’ve been doing yoga for some time now and have already experienced the wonderful benefits of the practice: bodily and mental strength, greater flexibility, improved mobility, and deeper mindfulness. You’ve also noticed a positive shift in your relationships, motivation on the job, better sleep, and more awareness in your eating patterns. There’s so much to be said about the benefits of yoga; they seem to be endless. But even with these amazing results, you’ve often wondered how you can sustain these benefits long after you’re off the yoga mat. Is there anything out there that can help boost the health benefits of yoga for the longevity of life? How about a cup of tea? Not just any tea...Matcha Green Tea.
This wonderful powdered tea has certainly risen to popularity recently, but it definitely is not something new on the health food store shelves. Matcha tea, made from a finely ground green tea leaf, has a long history. Probably first used by Chinese monks during the fourth century, this ground tea powder was whipped in hot water to help assist in practices like meditation. Matcha was also seen in other parts of China between 900 and 1170 and later emerged in Japan after 1197 in the Zen Buddhist communities. Its benefits include, but not limited to, a boost in health and wellness, immunity, concentration, and energy. Let’s take a look at some of the health benefits of matcha green tea.
Matcha is rich in catechins. This is a chemical compound found in some plants like tea leaves that are natural antioxidants. Studies have shown that antioxidants, like catechins, help to reduce the risk of certain forms of cancer. Their acting agents help to stabilize those harmful free radicals that can cause cell damage related to some chronic diseases.
Some other health benefits of matcha include improved liver health, the organ that helps flush out toxins from the body, boosting brain function, like a better memory, attention span, and reaction time, and protecting the heart by lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol levels that lead to heart disease.
It’s also good to note that matcha is packed with amino acids, too. Protein in our food is broken down into amino acids. One of the main roles of amino acids is to build and maintain the muscle tissues throughout the body. The particular amino acid in matcha is called L-theanine: it is found in green and black teas. In its simple form, L-theanine can be used in conjunction with treating anxiety and high blood pressure clinically shown to promote focus and relaxation while it enhances mood.
It’s important to note all these health benefits of matcha because they can certainly help with improving your yoga and meditative practices.
In some styles of yoga, a Vinyasa or flowing yoga practice, for example, the movement and breath work stimulates good circulation throughout the entire body. Matcha can aid in this function as well. It contributes to efficient blood flow to improve mobility and flexibility as you move your body through various poses. Imagine moving through a Sun Salutation at the opening of one of your favourite yoga classes. You can feel confident that you’ll experience better extension in your limbs, powerful and supportive muscle engagement, and fluidity of breath as you transition through poses.
Also, the plant compound provides an alertness that may be required in some styles of yoga. Lots of focus is required in some yoga poses. Take Tree Pose, a balancing posture, for example. There you are standing on one foot, trying to stay steady and strong. A good way to remain focused is to take a gaze at a non-moving object in front of you (this is call dristi). As you direct your eyes at this focal point, it allows your mind to fully concentrate, balance, stay and to remain present. With matcha, you’ll feel energized and present without the extreme effects of a caffeine burst commonly experienced in beverages like sodas or coffee and other stimulants. There is caffeine in matcha, but it acts differently from the caffeine in black coffee or sodas. Instead of the peak and crash of caffeine intake, you enjoy a steady dose of the chemical that produces energy and a mental clarity needed for activities like yoga and meditation.
Imagine going to a power yoga class, but you’re feeling a little mentally disconnected or not as mobile in your joints and muscles as you’d like to be. Having a hot cup of matcha green tea may just be the supplement you need to help you through your yoga practice.
Having a cup of this powdered elixir can also help with a meditative practice. Because of the natural chemicals in matcha, it assists with focus and concentration. This is due to the aforementioned amino acid, L-theanine. It helps you feel more at ease so you can delve deep into your meditative practice. While sitting during a Mindfulness Meditation practice, your mind will stay steady and tuned in. Your mind is less likely to wander in thought while you’re focusing on your breath, mental image, or mantra. And because you’ll be able to stay more connected to the practice, the overall result may also improve. You’ll feel more deeply aware, calm, and present.
Indulging in a wonderful hot cup of matcha isn’t just great for your yoga practice, but for your everyday activities, too. Drink Matcha green tea instead of grabbing a sugary soda for that mental boost you need in the middle of the day. Sip on this tea for a mental stableness that can improve your concentration and attention when you’re working hard on that work deadline.
And when you’re thinking about going through the coffee drive-thru to order that double mocha latte to get your morning started, try whipping up your powdered tea at home in hot water when you wake up. It’s very simple. Just a 1/4 tsp of the green powder in hot water (about 175 degrees F) and whipped with a small whisk, will produce a delicious cup of tea.
Matcha can be found in most grocery stores in the coffee and tea aisle. Go for the actual powder rather than the tea bags for a more authentic taste. Whip up a flavorful cup tomorrow morning and head off to your yoga class. You’ll feel great before, during and after your practice.