The benefits of yoga are countless. Workout trends come and go, no other exercise program, however, is as stable as yoga. Yoga has been around for over 5,000 years. It does a lot more than just burn calories and tone muscles. This breathing exercise is a total mind-body exercise that includes a combination of strengthening and stretching poses with deep breathing and meditation or relaxation.
There are over 100 different types of yoga. Some are fast-paced and intense. Others are mild and relaxing.
Just like other forms of exercise and relaxation techniques, yoga offers countless benefits to the health, mind and body.
Let’s take a look at few benefits of yoga.
Improves your flexibility
Improved flexibility is one of the primary and most noticeable benefits of yoga. During your first lesson, you likely won’t be able to touch your toes, not even do a back-bend. But if you stick with it, you’ll notice a steady loosening, and finally, poses that seem to be impossible will become possible.
You may also notice that aches and pains begin to disappear. This is no coincidence. Tight hips can strain the knee joint because of inappropriate alignment of the thigh and shinbones. Tight hamstrings can cause a flattening of the lumbar spine, which can lead to back pain. Also inflexibility in muscles and connective tissue, like fascia and ligaments, can lead to poor posture.
Builds muscle strength
Strong muscles do a lot more than make us look good. They also protect us from health conditions such as arthritis and back pain, and help put off falls in elderly people. And when you build strength with yoga, you balance it with flexibility. If you just hit the gym and lifted weights, you may build strength at the expense of flexibility.
Perfects your posture
Your head is similar to a bowling ball—huge, round, and heavy. When it’s balanced straight over an erect spine, it takes little work the neck and back muscles to support it. When you move it several inches forward, you start to strain the muscles. Hold up that forward-leaning bowling ball for up to eight or 12 hours a day and it’s not surprising that you’re tired. And fatigue might not be you’re the only problem you have.
Poor posture can give you back, neck, and other muscle and joint issues. While you slump, your body may react by flattening the normal inward curves in your neck and your lower back. This can lead to pain and degenerative arthritis of the spine.
Ups your heart rate
When you consistently get your heart rate into the aerobic range, you reduce your risk of heart attack and can ease depression. While not every form of yoga is aerobic, if you perform it dynamically or take flow or Ashtanga classes, it will boost up your heart rate into the aerobic range. Although even yoga poses that don’t get your heart rate up that high can perk up cardiovascular conditioning.
Studies found that practicing yoga lessens the resting heart rate, increases endurance, and can enhance your maximum uptake of oxygen during workout, all reflections of enhanced aerobic conditioning. A study found that subjects who were taught only yoga pranayama could do more exercise with less oxygen.
Drops your blood pressure
If you have high blood pressure, you may benefit from yoga. Two studies of people living with hypertension, published in the British medical journal The Lancet, put side by side the effects of Savasana (Corpse Pose) with merely lying on a couch.
After a period of three months, Savasana was linked with a 26-point drop in systolic blood pressure (the top number) and a 15-point drop in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) and the higher the initial blood pressure, the bigger the drop.
Yoga for weight loss
This is a great benefit for many! Yoga helps when it comes to weight loss too. Sun Salutations and Kapalbhati pranayama help lose weight with yoga. Furthermore, with consistent practice of yoga, we tend to become more aware of the kind of food our body requests for and the time we take. This can also help keep our weight in check.
Betters your bone health
It’s widely known that weight-bearing exercise strengthens bones and helps keep off osteoporosis. A lot of postures in yoga require that you lift your own weight. And a few, like Downward- and Upward-Facing Dog, will help strengthen the arm bones, which are mostly vulnerable to osteoporotic fractures. In an unpublished research carried out at California State University, Los Angeles, yoga practice maximized bone density in the vertebrae. Yoga’s capability to lessen levels of the stress hormone, cortisol may help maintain calcium in the bones.
Yoga Makes You Happier
Feeling down? Sit in Lotus. Or even better, rise up into a backbend or soar royally into King Dancer Pose. While it’s not as easy as that, a study found that a constant yoga practice improved depression and led to a considerable increase in serotonin levels and a reduction in monoamine oxidase (an enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters) levels and cortisol.
Richard Davidson, Ph.D., of the University of Wisconsin found that the left prefrontal cortex showed heightened activity in meditators, a finding that has been linked with greater levels of happiness and improved immune function. More vivid left-sided activation was found in devoted, long-term yoga practitioners.
Want better health, improved posture, and a lean and fit body? Start taking yoga lessons today!