7 benefits of yoga
by Freya • 6 minutes read
Last updated: 24 May, 2022
There are more benefits to yoga than you might know, it is not just good for gaining flexibility. Yoga includes a range of practices such as meditation, chanting, mantra, prayer, breath work, ritual, and selfless action.
Scientific research shows that all forms of yoga can have a range of different benefits, whether it's physical or mental.
While we are only listing 7, there is a large variety of benefits, but we are going to take a look at the best benefits it has.
1. Improves flexibility
This one may be slightly obvious to you as it is the main reason most people decide to do yoga, but what some don't know is the benefits of being flexible. It is important for our physical health, it improves our mobility, posture, muscle coordination, and even reduces the risk of injuries and muscle soreness.
2. Improves your mental health
On average there are around 800,000 global suicides a year, that is twice the amount from homicide according to Our World Data.
Although it will not cure depression, yoga can be helpful with clearing your mind of depressive thoughts. Although, researchers have found yoga to be comparable to medication and psychotherapy due to its effectiveness.
Regular yoga workouts can create mental clarity and calmness, while at the same time it centres attention and sharpens concentration is a positive sense. This occurs due the release of helpful brain chemicals, including dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. As a result of these chemicals being released, yoga can make you happier.
Yoga can also reduce stress levels, according to WebMD, 86% of Americans said that yoga helped them to deal with stress. Stress will cause your muscles to tighten, and yoga is a resourceful way of reducing this tension. The peacefulness you feel while doing yoga is also a factor of reducing stress e.g., the calming music or the peaceful silence, whichever you choose.
Yoga can also be a great help for anxiety, especially if you are focusing on your breathing throughout. There is a close relationship between anxiousness and breathing issues, being able to control your breathing can be helpful in anxious situations.
Again, it is also calming and allows you to take a moment to distract yourself from thoughts.
3. Improves bone health
Many yoga asanas are isometric contractions, a type of exercise that holds the body in one position, the muscles are contracted but do not change length as you hold. Isometric exercises have been found to increase our bone density, increasing our bone health.
Yoga can also be helpful with reversing the bone loss related to osteopenia and osteoporosis. According to one study, 12 minutes of yoga per day can significantly improve bone health.
Note, there have been some mixed results with studies regarding yoga and bone health, therefore it is still inconclusive as to whether it is highly effective, but despite this yoga has so many other benefits on top of this.
4. Improves cardiovascular functioning
Due to pranayama (yogic breathing), yoga can be greatly beneficial for the heart and its cardiovascular functioning.
A study made by Ayurveda and Integrative Medicines showed that pranayama can improve the functioning of many systems in the body. The research showed that the cardiovascular system benefits greatly from yogic breathing, it changed those that were involved heart rate, arterial pressure, contractility of the heart and stroke capacity.
5. Improves sleep
Yoga can be a great source for those that struggle to get to sleep or struggle to stay asleep through the night. This is due to the aftereffects of the exercise and the way it makes you feel both physically and mentally.
Yoga is a great way of winding down and clearing your mind, therefore it is a great thing to do before going to sleep as it can help clear your head of any intrusive thoughts, which a lot of people struggle with at night.
6. Boosts immunity
When you suffer from chronic stress, it can have a negative impact on your immune system.
As mentioned earlier, yoga is a great stress relief and so it can be a great way to boost your immunity too.
Although there is still some more research to be done, studies have found a distinctive link between the practice of yoga over a long period of time and the bettering of your immune system. It is helpful as yoga can fight inflammation and enhance cell-mediated immunity.
7. Encourages better posture and body awareness
Bad posture is becoming increasingly popular due to our modern lifestyles of sitting at a desk all day or playing computer games etc. and thus, we are constantly hunched over.
A recent review of 34 research studies found that yoga may improve brain function in areas responsible for interoception (sensing internal bodily cues) and posture.
Yoga focuses on flexibility and mobility and so it can contribute to better alignment by allowing tight muscles to be released, for example the hamstrings, this can then improve the mobility of the spine.
Here are some items to get you started with your yoga journey:
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