As technology has evolved, we’ve been allowed to learn more about our bodies and how we can look after them both now and long into the future. As well as providing us with information regarding the foods we consume, various studies and pieces of research have enabled us to learn exactly what activities benefit our bodies. In addition to H.I.I.T. (high-intensity interval training) workouts, yoga has been a huge beneficiary of this. Let’s examine the benefits of doing yoga:
According to the Yoga Alliance, around 37 million Americans practiced yoga regularly in 2016; this is nearly double the same figure from 2012. After this, we could list several other statistics and this is because it has a whole host of benefits. Over time, we’ve learned exactly what yoga entails rather than letting our preconceptions judge and this has had a huge impact. Today, we’re going to show you ten of the biggest benefits and they might just persuade you to pull out the yoga mat very soon!
1 – Improved Flexibility
You know the feeling; after sitting down for a prolonged period of time, we stand up only to find our muscles not playing ball. Throughout the day, there can be several points where we feel stiff but yoga can help with this. Although this is perhaps one of the most obvious health benefits, it’s also one of the biggest so we couldn’t miss it off this list.
During your first few attempts, you might not be able to touch your toes but there’s nothing wrong with this; don’t feel embarrassed and then give up. Instead, stick with it and it won’t be long before you notice a difference. Suddenly, the poses will feel easier and you’ll be following the instructor rather than laughing at how distant the dream of copying seems.
When your body feels tight, this can cause a plethora of issues including a flat lumbar spine from tight hamstrings and poor posture. By regularly stretching and allowing the blood to flow to all corners of your body, you stay in a great position moving forward! Flexibility may be the most important of the benefits of doing yoga.
2 – Improved Mental Awareness
In the hustle and bustle of today’s world, mental health has been a big topic for conversation. Often, we work day and night without a chance to really lift our heads and take stock of any given moment. With work and perhaps running children to various clubs, we barely get a moment to ourselves but this is where yoga really helps.
For many, they treat their yoga session as a small vacation and allow their minds to take them away from the many stresses of life. As long as you tell everyone nearby not to disturb you for a while and get yourself comfortable, you can close your eyes and just enjoy the moment. By removing all stresses from your life, this is a great way to refocus your mind and effectively think of a plan to attack what needs to be done in the coming hours or days.
Rather than getting overwhelmed, yoga allows you a moment of peace and serenity. After allowing yourself to calm, you’ll be ready to take on whatever the world has to throw your way.
3 – Improved Strength – Practical Benefits of Doing Yoga
As you hold your body in certain positions, you actually build strength in the activated muscles and this is something that often goes forgotten with yoga. In addition to your legs and arms building strength, your core will also be in action a good deal and this can give you confidence in various day-to-day tasks. For many, it gives them independence, and many ‘yogis’ note how lifting boxes and pushing a shopping cart becomes a whole lot easier after yoga.
Furthermore, your new strength will look good and it can prevent many health problems including back pain and arthritis. Considering you’re already improving your flexibility, this can be a great balance to have. Often, people go to the gym and lift weights but this is useless without balance. With yoga, you build the two in unison and you’ll see and feel the difference in no time!
4 – Improved Relationships
At first, you might be struggling to work out how yoga can improve your relationships but there are two reasons behind this thinking. Firstly, your new relaxed mind will cope better in stressful situations. For this reason, you’ll be more willing to listen to your friends and family members rather than letting them get to you. Once communication improves, the two of you will be more willing to forgive and it also provides a layer of trust that perhaps didn’t exist previously.
Secondly, you can practice yoga with those around you so it becomes a partnership or a group activity rather than something you do alone. Before you start, see if there are any friends, family members, or even colleagues who want to join you and this can be something you look forward to every week (you can still practice yoga daily at home in between). With a weekly class, you get to forget about the world for a while and make an event of it with those you love.
5 – Improved Sleep
While stimulation is beneficial for your body, too much will cause havoc for the nervous system. As we discussed previously, yoga allows you to take some time from the hectic schedule we seem to create for ourselves. With different types of yoga available, you can choose one designed to relax the mind (similar to meditation) which helps the nervous system to get some downtime.
When you get into bed, you’ll be much better at stopping the thoughts running through your head at 100mph. Furthermore, your muscles will also relax which enables you to reach a deeper sleep. When the alarm goes in the morning, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to take on a brand new day!
The increase in quality sleep also helps with healing and weight loss!
6 – Improved Breathing
According to a 1998 study, yogis breathe more efficiently (fewer breaths of a greater volume) than those who don’t practice yoga. For those with lung problems, this can be incredibly valuable and the same study noticed how respiratory rates fell significantly with yoga; one example saw the rate reductions to 7.6 breaths per minute from over 13. Furthermore, the oxygen saturation of their blood improved along with their capacity to exercise.
While on this note, we also know that yoga encourages breathing through the nose which allows the air to be filtered and warmed. When we breathe in cold air, it can trigger asthma attacks and all sorts of other allergies. By breathing in warm air, we can remove the dirt and pollen and keep our lungs clean.
7 – Improved Heart Health
In truth, yoga has a number of effects on the body which all culminate in a healthier heart. By lowering blood pressure, improving the respiratory system, increase the capacity of our lungs, and boosting blood circulation, all of these combine to put your heart in a healthier position. For those with heart disease, yoga won’t be able to reverse the effects but it can help to deal with the issue and improve your heart health as opposed to giving in and letting it get worse.
In addition to this, there’s also an emotional side to heart issues because around half go on to experience some form of anxiety or depression (after bypass surgery). Thanks to the calming benefits of yoga, you can lower your blood pressure and learn how to deal with stressful situations in a more efficient way.
8 – Improved Overall Lifestyle
While yoga can be a solid place to start, it can also be the foundation of what becomes a healthy lifestyle. If you have a relaxing yoga session first thing in the morning, it can relax the mind and encourage you to eat healthily throughout the day. Of course, practicing yoga will also burn calories and leave you with a feeling of not wanting to go back to your hard work. After a yoga session in the morning, you suddenly feel guilty when there’s a fast-food meal on the table in front of you.
With this in mind, be inspired by your newfound activity and let it push you towards a healthier life. In the past, we’ve found that a steady adjustment is always better than jumping right in. If you go all-in on day one, the cravings will soon take over so allow yourself to make the change slowly and you’ll soon get rid of those bad eating habits.
9 – Improved Cortisol Levels
If you aren’t sure what this means for you or your body, you aren’t alone so allow us to explain. Within the adrenal glands, your body will secrete cortisol after an acute crisis and this boosts the immune system temporarily. While this is good in the short-term, high cortisol levels after the crisis has been and gone can be a problem for the immune system. When cortisol levels are consistently high, there have been links to brain function and permanent changes in your memory; with excessive cortisol, it can even cause high blood pressure and depression.
According to the President of the Yoga Research Society in Philadelphia, who has carried out numerous studies of the benefits of doing yoga, yoga will ‘normalize’ cortisol levels when they’re too high but also when they’re too low. Although we still don’t have a direct answer as to why this happens, many experts believe the deep breathing allows the body to activate a ‘restoration response’. From here, many of the natural processes balance themselves to the right levels including the reduction of abdominal fat.
10 – Improved Resourcefulness
Finally, how can we list the main benefits of doing yoga without mentioning the fact it can be done anywhere. If you’re resourceful, have a yoga mat (you might not even need this), and some comfortable clothing, you can get started at home, at work during the lunch break, at the local park, or anywhere you desire.
For the first few times, we recommend going somewhere quiet so you can get used to the correct form of each pose as well as learning to get into the right state of mind. Once you have a little experience, you can start to explore your local area and find your favorite locations for yoga.
Summary – Benefits of Doing Yoga
There we have it, ten fantastic benefits to practicing yoga. As well as health benefits, we also covered a couple of general benefits so we have one question to finish; do you want to become a yogi? You should also know there are additional benefits when practicing yoga with other people! With all these benefits (and more we haven’t listed), it’s hard not to be intrigued so we encourage you to do more research and find out how to get started!