Yoga Benefits

Yoga has been practiced for more than 5,000 years, and currently, close to 11 million Americans are enjoying its health benefits. Yoga can hardly be called a trend.

Most Westernized yoga classes focus on learning physical poses, which are called asanas. They also usually include some form of breathing technique and possibly a meditation technique as well. Some yoga classes are designed purely for relaxation. But there are styles of yoga that teach you how to move your body in new ways. Choosing one of these styles offers the greatest health benefits by enabling you to develop your flexibility, strength, and balance.

yoga benefits

Yoga benefits: Flexibility

When some people think of yoga, they imagine having to stretch like a gymnast. That makes them worry that they’re too old, unfit, or “tight” to do yoga. The truth is you’re never too old to improve flexibility.

The series of yoga poses called asanas work by safely stretching your muscles. This releases the lactic acid that builds up with muscle use and causes stiffness, tension, pain, and fatigue. In addition, yoga increases the range of motion in joints. It may also increase lubrication in the joints. The outcome is a sense of ease and fluidity throughout your body.

Yoga stretches not only your muscles but all of the soft tissues of your body. That includes ligaments, tendons, and the fascia sheath that surrounds your muscles. And no matter your level of yoga, you most likely will see benefits in a very short period of time. In one study, participants had up to 35% improvement in flexibility after only eight weeks of yoga. The greatest gains were in shoulder and trunk flexibility.

Yoga benefits: Strength

Some styles of yoga, such as ashtanga and power yoga, are more vigorous than others. Practicing one of these styles will help you improve muscle tone.

But even less vigorous styles of yoga, such as Iyengar yoga, which focuses on less movement and more precise alignment in poses, can provide strength and endurance benefits.

Many of the poses, such as Downward Dog, Upward Dog, and Plank pose, build upper-body strength. This becomes crucial as people age. The standing poses, especially if you hold them for several long breaths, build strength in your hamstrings, quadriceps, and abdominal muscles. Poses that strengthen the lower back include Upward Dog and Chair pose. When practiced correctly, nearly all poses build core strength in the deep abdominal muscles.

yoga benefits

Yoga benefits: Posture

With increased flexibility and strength comes better posture. Most standing and sitting poses develop core strength. That’s because you’re counting on your deep abdominals to support and maintain each pose. With a stronger core, you’re more likely to sit and stand “tall.” Another benefit of yoga is the increased body awareness. This heightened awareness tells you more quickly when you’re slouching or slumping so you can adjust your posture.

Yoga benefits: Breathing

Because of the deep, mindful breathing that yoga involves, lung capacity often improves. This in turn can improve sports performance and endurance. But yoga typically isn’t focused on aerobic fitness the way running or cycling are. Taking an intense power yoga class that gets you breathing hard in a heated room, however, can provide an aerobic benefit.

Most forms of yoga emphasize deepening and lengthening your breath. This stimulates the relaxation response — the opposite of the fight-or-flight adrenaline boost of the stress response.
Yoga benefits: Less stress, more calm

Even beginners tend to feel less stressed and more relaxed after their first class. Some yoga styles use specific meditation techniques to quiet the constant “mind chatter” that often underlies stress. Other yoga styles depend on deep breathing techniques to focus your mind on the breath. When this happens, your mind becomes calm.

Among yoga’s anti-stress benefits are a host of biochemical responses. For example, there is a decrease in catecholamines, the hormones produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. Lowering levels of hormone neurotransmitters — dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine — creates a feeling of calm. Some research points to a boost in the hormone oxytocin. This is the so-called “trust” and “bonding” hormone that’s associated with feeling relaxed and connected to others. That may be why so many romances start in the yoga studio.

yoga benefits

Yoga benefits: Concentration and Mood

Harder to pin down and research scientifically, concentration and the ability to focus mentally are common benefits you’ll hear yoga students talk about. The same is true with mood. Nearly every yoga student will tell you they feel happier and more contented after class. Recently, researchers have begun exploring the effects of yoga on depression, a benefit that may result from yoga’s boosting oxygen levels to the brain. Yoga is even being studied as an adjunct therapy to relieve symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Yoga benefits: Yoga Increases Self-Confidence, 5,000 Year Old Secret

When you learn to stand on your own two feet, you start to learn how to carry yourself with confidence. Being able to hold yourself up in a variety of positions will give you the courage to face any fear.  Yoga is a natural way to promote good health and wellness in the body.

Learning new poses, discovering the art of balance and bending will give you a new outlook. You will start to see things in a new light. You will soon feel better from within as yoga incorporates the art of meditation as well. You will notice a change from within as you learn to have more compassion.

When you fold and twist and open your muscles, you also affect your brain. Just like mind-altering drugs, poses are mind-altering. They literally change the landscape of your mind. You start to hold your head higher, as you gain more confidence. You will have a brighter outlook on life.

By uncovering your inner strength with each posture, with each breath, you will see yourself in a new light. You will be more positive. You will be more confident. Becoming more physically fit will make you feel better about yourself. Yoga will bring you to that place of optimum health. When you start to lose weight and realize how much you are capable of, you will be happier.

Yoga benefits: Yoga Provides a Positive Paradigm Shift

Learning the principles of yoga as well as the proper way to breathe and meditate will enable you to learn how to relax. Proper breathing techniques will help to reach new heights and awareness, both mentally and physically.  Positive change can be made through exploring the principles and beliefs that make up the basis of yoga and its teachings.

By focusing on your body and dedicating yourself to your bodies change, you will start to notice how different you feel when you do your yoga and when you do not. You will then start to notice the subtle changes that occur when you are partaking in your yoga sessions. You will notice that yoga clears away doubt, fear, and apprehension.

When participating in yoga, you will notice that your inner spirit will feel a little less gloomy. You will start to feel a little more determined in achieving what you set out to do in your daily routine. This practice implores breathing techniques that reach way down into your inner core. It teaches you the proper techniques in learning how to let some things go and not let you get overwhelmed by the little things in life.

You will gain the tools of self-discovery and analysis. You will begin to know how to handle yourself, your mind, and your body in a more positive light.

yoga benefits

Yoga benefits: Yoga stimulates digestion to flatten your stomach

Toxic waste is meant to be eliminated. Often our body can become sluggish if you have not implemented some sort of exercise regime.  Eating the proper foods as well as increasing your intake of water will aid your organs in eliminating the toxic waste from your system.

Depending on your diet and your weight, these organs become laden with fat and toxic deposits. The stomach becomes burdened by your daily nutritional and exercise habits. Yoga is instrumental in stimulating digestion through its simple movements.

Implementing the exercises that are made up of the yoga principles will improve the circulation of blood within your body.  Stretching and bending, extending and twisting will bring increased blood flow to your abdomen. This will stimulate your organs of digestion to start pushing food through, cleansing your intestines and colon and purging your stomach. Your body will start to reawaken to its natural tendency to purify. Your metabolism will start to fire up.

Yoga brings heat to the belly. In yogic terms, this is called “tapas”. This word, tapas, relates to the urge to become healthier, fitter, and happier. It means to stoke the fire in your gut to change your lifestyle, diet, exercise habits, and entire outlook. Yoga will stimulate your digestion and increase your motivation to maintain a healthier way of life.