The art of Yoga has been around for thousands of years, and although its precise history is obscure and uncertain, it is generally assumed to have been founded in Northern India approximately 5000 years ago. More recently, many western countries have been studying and practicing the art of Yoga, and incorporating it into daily routines for purposes of physical healing and spiritual wellbeing. While the many benefits cannot be scientifically proven, and vary from person to person, it is impractical to deny that there are many benefits to Yoga. So let’s discuss some of these benefits!
1. Increases Flexibility
Obviously, one of the biggest and most prominent benefits of yoga is increased flexibility. When you start doing yoga, you’ll probably notice that you can’t even touch your feet! Overtime, you’ll notice a gradual, newfound flexibility! Along with this, you many notice ache and pains disappearing. That is because with your increased flexibility comes better posture and hip alignment!
2. Builds Muscle Strength
Like increased flexibility, building muscle strength will fend off feelings of muscle fatigue and strain. Additionally, building muscle strength will help to protect you from developing conditions like arthritis. With yoga, you simultaneously build strength and increase flexibility, they go hand in hand. So not only will you look good, but you’ll feel great.
3. Weight Loss
Another perk that comes along with doing yoga is weight loss! Just like any exercise, practicing the art of yoga helps you burn energy, which ultimately results in weight loss. Many people incorporate yoga into their regular workout routine to help with weight loss and muscle gain!
4. Increases Energy
Yoga helps to recharge your energy levels! I know, it sounds too good to be true, but it absolutely does! Many poses are specifically designed to help boost your energy levels when you need it! Whether it’s first thing in the morning, or during those horrid mid-day slumps, yoga’s got your back!
5. Better Respiration
People who do yoga on a regular basis tend to breathe fewer breaths of greater volume, which is more calming and efficient! Yoga has been shown to improve many faucets of lung function, and increase oxygen-blood saturation. By promoting breathing through the nose, yoga teaches you how to breathe more correctly and healthily.
6. Helps Spinal Health
Doing yoga frequently will help protect your spine. In order to remain healthy and absorb nutrients, your spinal disks need frequent movement. Plenty of yoga stretches, such as backbends, forward bends, and twists help to meet these needs and keep those disks in your back working in your favor!
7. Improves Bone Health
Studies show that weight-bearing exercises strengthens bones, and helps to fend off osteoporosis. Many yoga poses require you to lift your own body weight, helping to improve bone health and make your bones less susceptible to fractures and breaks. Additionally, similar studies show that yoga increases bone density and lowers stress levels, which help to keep calcium within the bones.
8. Increases Blood Flow
The relaxation exercises that you learn in yoga are incredibly beneficial to blood circulation, especially for your hands and feet! The exercises get more oxygen to your cells, and function better as a result. Additionally, yoga increases your hemoglobin levels and red blood cells, which carry oxygen to tissues.
9. Boosts Immunity
Yoga helps your body to increase the drainage of the lymph, which in turn helps the lymphatic system fight infections, cancer, and dispose of waste associated with cellular functioning. All of this is achieved as the result of increased movement, blood flow, and oxygen!
10. Lowers Risk of Heart Attack
As discussed previously, yoga both increased blood flow and oxygen blood saturation. Studies show that increased blood circulation and high levels of oxygen in the blood can lead to a decrease in the likelihood of heart attacks and strokes.
11. Decreases Blood Pressure
With increased blood flow, comes decreased blood pressure! The more efficient your body is at pumping blood throughout your system, the lower your blood pressure will be. If you are at risk of high blood pressure, you may benefit from doing yoga.
12. Improves Mood
Yoga has been showed to increase serotonin levels in the brain, which in turn improves your mood and makes you happier overall. Additionally, increased serotonin levels lead to a decrease in depression and better immune system function.
13. Improves Focus
An important principle in yoga is to focus on the present. Regular yoga sessions have been shown to improve coordination, memory, and reaction time. People who regularly practice yoga demonstrate better problem solving abilities and information recall. This is likely due to being less distracted by their thoughts.
14. Lowers Blood Sugar
Yoga lowers your blood sugar levels! It has been shown to lower cortisol and adrenaline levels, which encourages weight loss, and improves sensitivity to insulin. If you are at risk of diabetes, you may benefit from yoga.
15. Sleep Better
In addition to all the other health benefits, yoga can help you sleep better. Throughout our days, we are constantly bombarded with stimuli, whether it is at work or at home. Simply put, most of us are over stimulated, which can have a dire effect on our quality of sleep. Yoga can help to relieve those stresses, while teaching you to relax and let go of daily tensions, helping you fall asleep quicker and sleep through the night.
16. Decreases Anxiety
Yoga also is beneficial for eliminating anxiety! Yoga revolves around mind-body practices that involve physical poses and controlled breathing, which both contribute to a decrease in anxiety, and learning to control anxiety. As we’ve previously discussed, yoga may help reduce stress, decrease blood pressure, and lower your heart rate, which all can contribute to reduced anxiety!
17. Improves Balance
Yoga is 50% physical and 50% mental. The physical part demands that you hold poses that increase your strength and flexibility. While these increase, so does your balance! However, if your mind and mental energy are not in sync, your physical balance will falter.
18. Encourages Mindfulness
The meditative aspect of yoga encourages and strengthens mindfulness. It revolves around focusing and dwelling in the moment, while being conscious of your surroundings. It helps to balance and achieve inner peace that most of us do not experience!
19. Digestion Benefits
May studies have shown that there are many digestion benefits to yoga! For example, many IBS suffers turn to yoga as a way to de-stress and decrease their anxiety. What seems to follow is a positive reaction from the gut.
20. Encourages Self Care
The most important aspect of Yoga is its encouragement of self-care. Yoga is all about caring for your mind and your body, alike. We only have one life, and it’s our responsibility to live, and to live well, caring for ourselves and others!