Yoga can ease the pain of arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other chronic conditions.
Yoga, as we know it today, more commonly refers to the asanas or the physical poses that practitioners do as some form of exercise. However, yoga is much broader than that.
The word “yoga” comes from a Sanskrit root word that means connection. The physical aspect of yoga is only a part of the whole lifestyle. Yoga is actually a spiritual, mental, and physical practice that has been around since 3000 BC, according to some scholars, but only became popular around the mid-nineteenth century.
Because yoga is a holistic practice, its effects do not only include physical benefits but also positive changes in one’s mental, emotional, psychological, and spiritual health. We present here some of the most powerful benefits of regular yoga practice.
Yoga makes you flexible and strong
When you see practitioners stretching their limbs into poses that look pretty daunting, you know for sure that flexibility is a huge part of their practice. And because muscles and bones, joints, and ligaments become looser and well-oiled with flexibility exercises, aches and pains also begin to disappear! Tightness in the hips and hamstrings cause pain, but flexing them regularly can improve their condition and even result in better overall posture.
If you want to get your blood sugar levels down and decrease the risk of diabetic complications like heart attack, blindness, and kidney failure, you should consider starting yoga today.
Regular practice of yoga also tones the muscles and builds them for strength. Good muscles protect our bodies and make us look better, too. Yoga builds healthy bones and wards off osteoporosis. Holding a pose in yoga is akin to lifting one’s own weight, which increases bone density over time.
Breathe and relax for inner peace
Yoga has a lot of breathing exercises that promote inner calm and peace. Breathing deeply and properly plays an important role in maintaining mindfulness during the practice. When you do yoga, you have to be in a zone where your mind is not troubled by worries, stress, or problems. You have to relax your body, slow your breath, and focus on the present. This practice calms the mind and lowers blood pressure.
Research shows that yoga helps decrease the episodes of and pain intensity caused by migraine.
It is a fact that yogis take fewer breaths that are full and complete, which is very calming. This brings more oxygen into the bloodstream. Yoga teachers even say that when you take fewer breaths, it is tantamount to extending your life span.
Recharge with yoga
There are practitioners who do yoga in the morning, before setting out to work. This gives them a good supply of energy to complete their daily tasks. Others find it more beneficial to go for a session at the end of the day to refresh themselves and recharge their batteries after a long, tiring day at work.
If you’ve got the blues, cheer up with yoga.
Whether you do it in the morning or in the evening, yoga definitely results in increased energy, which is a good thing to have no matter what time of day. Consistent practice will increase the serotonin levels in your body while decreasing monoamine oxidase and cortisol. Serotonin is a chemical found in the body that improves a person’s mood. Meanwhile, monoamine oxidase is an enzyme associated to depression while cortisol is known as the stress hormone.
Boost immunity and keep illness at bay
A Norwegian study in 2013 involving experimental yoga program sessions found that yoga improves immunity at cellular level. The researchers noted that the positive changes were significantly greater among the yoga practitioners as compared to a control group who went on a hike as they listened to relaxing music. When a person does yoga, the changes in gene expression happen while the practitioner is still on the mat—it is an instant result.
Inverted poses allow blood from the legs and pelvis to flow into the heart, infusing the blood in this critical organ with a fresh supply of oxygen.
If you are familiar with how our lymphatic system works, you’ll understand that when a person contracts and stretches their muscles and organs (as while in the practice of yoga), the flow of lymphs, which are rich in immune cells, in the lymphatic vessels is improved resulting in greater immunity. The body is then better able to fight infection, destroy cancer cells, and get rid of toxins.
Yoga for inner strength
For people who have made yoga part of their lifestyle, even during bad days when they have to drag themselves out of bed, they go through the asanas and make no excuses. And this fire and discipline that fuels their regular yoga practice is carried over to other areas of their lives. It is simply one of the benefits of practicing yoga—it builds the will and helps one make positive changes in their life.
According to research, yoga practice is associated with mindful eating. This awareness helps curb cravings and, eventually, promotes weight loss.
It is not surprising to see that once you start your regular yoga practice, you’ll find yourself watching what you eat, quitting smoking, or overcoming your other dysfunctional habits. Because you will have developed inner strength, the benefits could be seen as outward manifestations apart from the various inner changes that only you would feel.
When a person starts doing yoga, the glow can definitely be perceived physically. But more importantly, crucial changes also happen inside the individual and around them. Their relationships are positively affected, their aura is charged with joy and happiness, and their personal universe becomes full of peace and love.