The modern yoga industry has attracted people from all walks of life, who are flocking to it in record numbers in the hopes of enjoying the benefits of a daily practice.
And no matter the style, the benefits of practicing yoga are common to all of them, which is why more people are spreading their mats and assuming pose. According to estimates, around 20-million Americans practice yoga, in one form or another, making it one of the most practiced forms of exercise in the U.S.
But is it really worth its hype? Does it deliver the health benefits it promises? Regardless of what people say about it, certain benefits of yoga are making it a highly sought after exercise form.
And in this article, we’ll be taking a glimpse at those benefits:
Makes you more flexible
In yoga, you have to maintain certain postures for time. With so many postures to choose from, you can assume a pose that aligns with your own level of flexibility. Balancing into a pose, avoiding the ever-present danger of keeling over, can lead to a strengthening of both muscles and bones. These benefits carry more importance for people who are 65 or above, since the aging process leads to a loss in muscles and causes bones to become weaker.
By practicing the various postures, an aging person can stave off the effects of aging and enhance muscle maintainance and bone strength. The slow and controlled yoga movements, that are coupled with deep breathing exercises, improve blood circulation and help the muscles become supple.
Improves mental health
Yoga emphasizes the importance of conscious and deep breathing for improving mental health. This is why renowned addiction treatment facilities, like the Palm Beach Institute, incorporate yoga and meditation aspects into patient recovery programs to promote mental and physical detox and helping patients think more positively about life after substance use. The practice of yoga delivers mental clarity, induces calm, and relieves stress, and with increased body awareness and concentration, patients can easily overcome their substance dependencies.
And if that weren’t enough, yoga also boosts brain functioning. This is because yoga also reinforces those parts of the brain that develop and improve memory, thought, and language. ‘Weightlifting for the brain,’ is the perfect analogy for how yoga helps strengthen your brain.
Reinforces your heart health
With countless brain health benefits, it is sometimes easy to jump to the conclusion that it can only help people with mental health problems. However, it should be known that it has countless other physical benefits, especially for the heart as well. For improving heart health, yoga helps reduce stress levels and inflammation.
By controlling several of the factors that contribute toward heart diseases, such as high blood pressure, obesity, and reducing cholesterol levels, yoga promotes a good heart. Atrial fibrillation is one heart condition that can be directly impacted by performing yoga twice a week, a study on yoga’s benefits for heart health found. Another study showed that patients dealing with risks of cardiac failure saw improvements in their exercise capacity and general heart health only when they put themselves through an 8-week yoga program.
Supplements other exercises
Stuck in a monotonous exercise routine? Yoga offers an interesting alternative that promises, among other things, to improve flexibility and muscle strength. Incorporate yoga into your running, gym, or any physical sporting activity.
Another obvious benefit of yoga is that it improves your balance, especially when you perform those one-legged poses, which translates well into performing other sports.
Reduce chronic body pains
Chronic and persistent pain can significantly disrupt the quality of your life. Research into chronic pain suggests that it can lead to depression. However, other studies have also proven that yoga is the most effective treatment for such ailments.
A study conducted by Annals of Internal Medicine found that patients reported a significant reduction in pain after taking weekly yoga classes for 3-months. These patients were also more likely to get themselves off painkillers after continuing the yoga practice for more than a year, which makes this an extremely relevant benefit as we are in the midst of a serious opioid epidemic.
So how does yoga boost creativity? Research claims that mindfulness, which is a side effect of the practice of yoga, meditation, deep breathing, and mantra chanting, boosts the brain’s alpha waves, which are closely related to inducing calm and creativity. Let’s say, the next time you paint yourself into a corner while working on a presentation, don’t just sit there hoping for a solution, roll out your yoga mat and stretch, breathe, and let your mind find the answer for you.
Yoga boosts mood by lowering the stress hormone, cortisol. In addition, exercise leads to the production of feel-good hormones, such as endorphins, and brings cleaner, oxygenated blood to the brain. With so many postures to choose from, the effects of yoga on your mood are as varied as relieving anxiety and depression to promoting clarity and creativity.
Yoga improves the mood by stimulating production of a brain chemical, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which has a role in improving anxiety and mood. Meditation, as an integral part of the yoga practice, also helps in decreasing the limbic system’s activity, the part of the brain responsible for emotions.
Yoga has countless body and mind benefits. It improves mood, helps with mental health, imparts physical flexibility and strength, promotes creativity and clarity of thought, and offers you an expansive perspective over life. Only a 10-minute yoga session, performed daily, can help you experience the above-mentioned benefits for yourself.