5 Benefits of Yoga
Five Of The Many Benefits Of Yoga
Many of you are probably already familiar with the many benefits of yoga. Some may just need your memories refreshing, and others of you may be looking for a way to break out of your 'fitness comfort zone' by trying a new form of exercise and that may be Yoga...
Honestly, the thought of Yoga used to make me yawn and it's still not top of my favorite list. I always thought it was boring, easy and too slow until I found a type that worked for me, so don’t be afraid to bounce around studios until you find the type that works best and is most enjoyable for you.
Many studios offer a free trial class. One type isn’t necessarily better than another, it all depends on what you’re looking for, what you like and the vibe you get from the teacher. My personal favorites are Bikram (so good for detoxing) and Hot Yoga (can you tell I like heat!).
We all know that Yoga’s great for stress relief and stretching but what about the many other benefits? There’s even a whole book on it called ‘Yoga For Medicine’. Unlike many passing fads, Yoga has been practiced since the sixth and fifth centuries BC although not introduced to the West until the late 19th/early 20th century. It survives because it works! The practice and benefits are holistic since Yoga’s not just physical, it’s also mental and spiritual.
Top 5 benefits to Yoga:
1. Relieves Stress and Depression
Time to get happy and feel at ease!
Regular yoga practice increases brain GABA levels which improves mood and anxiety. Practicing long term has even more benefits; just going once a week for two years or more releases 41% less of a tension-triggered cytokine (a type of protein) that can make you feel tired and moody (Psychosomatic Medicine ).
The sequence of poses encourages you to focus on your poses and breathing and to not let your mind wander which helps forget about outside stresses (even if just temporarily) and the controlled breathing encourages relaxation and for deeper stretching.
2. Improved Posture and Flexibility
The yoga sequences work every muscle, tissue and tendon, and in many practices also the organs, to help stretch, strengthen, tone and realign the body into optimum alignment. Not only does this help improve posture and flexibility but also allows for everything to work optimally and alleviates many pains.
“Sufferers who did two 90-minute yoga classes a week for about six months eased soreness by 56%" a study in Spine shows” (Self.com). Which is more effective than pain meds and physical therapy, although NOT a replacement for.
Yoga can also help with spine and joint problems, mental health improvements, reduced symptoms of asthma, reduced high blood pressure and lower cardiovascular risk factors. That’s pretty awesome for one form of exercise to do!
A study from Boston University School of Medicine showed that over twelve weeks, the group practicing yoga reported:
- a 1/3 decrease in lower back pain, whilst the other group that continued with standard treatment for back pain only a 5% drop.
- Yoga participants also had a drop of 80% in pain medication use.
Yoga is by no means a replacement for traditional treatments, but rather to compliment it.
Think outside of the gym, it isn’t the only place you can get sculpted, toned, long, lean muscles.
Yoga is strength training, since you’re using your body weight to hold poses and also to move from posture to posture. Many of the weight bearing poses use multiple muscles which also have the benefit of being metabolism boosting and toning more than one muscle group at a time.
My personal favorites include Crow (fantastic for arms and core), Crescent, Warrior III and plank variations where everything’s working!
4. Improved Sleep
Whether you’re an insomniac like me, or don’t feel rested however long you sleep because you’re not getting deep enough zzz’s, regular practice can help.
By helping you relax, calming the mind and relieving tension in the body, it makes it easier to switch off when the time comes to hit the hay.
There are also several poses you can do before bed to help:
- Childs Pose
- Legs up the Wall pose
- Corpse Pose
Remember to focus on the poses and use slow, deep breaths which will help to calm your mind whilst the poses calm your body and ease tension.
Bonus: Improved sleep can also aid weight loss as sleep deprivation often leads to poor food choices, a less than efficient metabolism and nighttime hormone imbalances (which affect the metabolism).
5. Better Body Image
I think the curse of a warped body image, and a certain amount of lack of self-love affects most of us! Embracing the skin we're in and being at peace with it is possible though. Yoga could help! Since it makes you tune into how your body feels and the amazing things it’s capable of rather than just what it looks like.
I always feel a huge amount of gratitude when I practice Yoga, and it makes me want to treat my body like a temple afterwards rather than pollute it with poor dietary and lifestyle choices.
Now go forth my Yoga bunnies and go get toned, flexible and happy ;)
Always practice precaution with Yoga, the same as you would with any form of exercise, stop whenever you feel pain or discomfort, don’t compete with others in the class or go beyond your capabilities especially when new. Listen to your body and seek your practitioners advice on which poses to avoid if pregnant women or nursing.
“There are no such things as limits to growth, because there are no limits to the human capacity for intelligence, imagination, and wonder.”
What are your favorite things about or benefits of yoga besides these 5 benefits of yoga? Drop your comments below.