Yoga is by no means a new health craze. The art of yoga has been around for centuries - in fact, its origins can be traced back to over 5,000 years ago. That’s a lot of years of yoga!
And there’s a reason why it’s so still so popular today. Far from being just another health fad, yoga’s ongoing popularity has a lot to do with the huge amount of proven health benefits it boasts. Hundreds of studies have proven how beneficial yoga is to both physical and emotional health - which, let's face it, is something that everyone could do with a bit more of.
In this article, we’ll list through the benefits of yoga to the body and brain so you can
How yoga benefits the body
Yoga offers a gentle but powerful way to exercise the body. But, as anyone who’s ever finished an Ashtanga yoga class will tell you - that doesn’t mean it’s always easy!
The mixture of yoga’s considered movements and stretches have some unique benefits that other types of exercise can’t compete with. Let us highlight some of the most important and powerful physical benefits of yoga.
Regular yoga increases flexibility
Yoga is famous for its elaborate stretching and extravagant poses. However, looking as elegant as possible really isn’t the objective of yoga (although some Instagram influencers would make you feel otherwise).
Instead, the goal is working towards improving these poses through your own daily yoga practice. The more you do this, the more you’ll notice an increase in your own flexibility, which in turn can support you to become stronger, less susceptible to injuries and more agile.
Yoga increases muscle strength and tone
Yoga requires a lot of muscle tension to hold poses. So although you might think weight lifting is the only way to improve your strength and muscle tone, regular yoga practice can actually go a long way in helping you become stronger.
It’s also a less invasive exercise, making it an enjoyable way to see your strength progress over the weeks without putting your body under too much stress.
Yoga helps improves your posture
Yoga is brilliant for improving your posture. With regular practice, you’ll start strengthening and stretching the muscles across your chest, back, shoulders and abdominals - all of the muscles that your body needs to help you stand tall and support yourself better. Yoga exercises can also help to relieve any pain or discomfort you might experience as a result of bad posture.
In a world where many of us spend hours sitting down in front of screens, regular yoga practice can be the welcome relief our hunched over backs are begging for!
Yoga can improve your bone health
Although it’s not as intense as weight lifting, yoga is weight-bearing exercise. Thi means when you’re practicing, you’re holding the weight of your body up against gravity. This means that resisting gravity puts a mild stress on your bones which forces them into stimulating new growth. Over time, this helps improve your bone health, making you less susceptible to injuries.
Yoga helps boosts your immune system
A very important benefit of yoga is the way it can help to regulate and strengthen your immune system.
That’s because regular yoga practice actually helps lower some of the well known stress hormones that work to compromise your immune system, making it easier for you to get sick. Yoga also works to condition your lungs and respiratory tract, therefore helping the lymphatic system to oust unwanted toxins from the body.
How yoga benefits the mind
The mental and physiological benefits of yoga are what makes it such a unique form of exercise. From stress relief to mindfulness, yoga is famous for helping people find the space to feel calm, focused and relaxed.
A true yogi will always say that yoga isn’t yoga without mindfulness. That’s because yoga and mindfulness go hand in hand, with the whole aim being to quiet the mind and focus on the body and what’s happening within it.
When practicing yoga, you naturally quieten the noise around you, tune into your breath, pay attention to bodily sensations, and focus on accepting all those sensations without making a judgement. The more you practice , the easier you’ll find it to access this mindful state in other activities, too.
Yoga can help boosts memory and improve concentration
Ever felt like you’re becoming forgetful? Yoga has even been linked to memory improvement and increased concentration. It’s thought that the many yogic techniques help stimulate the brain and nervous system and can help improve memory and concentration.
Aside from this, yoga practice that involves chanting, visualizations or mantras, has also been linked with strengthened verbal and visual skills, along with an improved overall awareness and attention to focus.
Yoga can help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety
If you suffer from conditions like depression and anxiety, yoga can be a really effective way of relieving some of the symptoms. It’s thought that the focus on deep breathing and stretching can have counteracting effects on symptoms such as sleep troubles, pain, and a loss of energy.
In fact, yoga's positive benefits on mental health have made it an important practice tool of psychotherapy. Numerous studies have shown how yoga therapy can help reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression, and more and more health professionals are starting to recommend it for mental health issues. Always make sure you consult a medical professional before you get started.
Yoga helps to reduce stress
We all live busy, stressful lives nowadays, and regular exercise is a great way to get some of that built up stress out of our systems.
The emotional and mindful benefits of yoga have been found to help combat the feelings of overwhelm and stress. However, yoga is also known to be particularly effective for reducing the physical impacts of stress, too. The combination of the physical poses and controlled breathing can help lower blood pressure and lower your heart rate - helping your body recover more quickly from bouts of stress.
Yoga improves your overall mental well-being
Overall, yoga can have an extremely positive impact on your general mental wellbeing. By simply increasing your body awareness, sharpening your attention and concentration, and calming and centering your nervous system, people who practice yoga regularly report high feelings of emotional well being - something that you can also achieve with just short practices every day.
Exercising for your body and mind whilst at home
Are you missing the gym and your regular fitness classes? Team Energybase to your rescue. Check out their home workout videos on YouTube and take care of your body and mind at this time.