9 Incredible Mental and Physical Benefits of Yoga
When it comes to yoga, it seems like everybody knows it’s good for many things, but most of us can’t really explain what those things are. You just feel a lot better, smile more often and like life a bit better, right? Well, if you are trying to put your finger on what it is that yoga helps you with, you will find the answers in this article.
1. It makes you more flexible
Well, this one is pretty obvious – it is a kind of exercise and it is one of the first things you think of when you say „yoga“. On their first yoga class people often realize how inflexible they actually are, but with devotion come results. Gradually, you will notice that you became looser – your back, neck and any other muscle or joint pain will disappear, and you will be able to do some pretty unusual poses during practice. Your posture will improve, your spine will flatten… all in all, you will feel much more flexible and pain-free.
2. It makes your bones much healthier
It has been proven scientifically that yoga is a good way to prevent osteoporosis. This is mostly because many positions you do at yoga practice (for example, Crane and various types of Headstands) require lifting your own weight. Others (such as Downward and Upward-Facing Dog) also help strengthen your arms, and that’s where the bones are most prone to develop osteoporosis. So, by regularly practicing yoga, in addition to learning cool new positions, you are helping your bones get stronger and lowering your risk of developing osteoporosis.
3. It boosts your immune system
This particularly goes for meditation. Some studies have proven that through this type of yoga people are able to help their own body by boosting their immune system, or lowering it when necessary. Also, through practicing yoga, stretching and contracting your muscles, and by trying out different postures, you can help drain lymphs, which are rich in immune cells – and in this way help your body fight threatening infections and cancer cells. Pretty amazing, huh? Of course, to get to this level of meditation, you have to be really devoted and practice regularly, but look at the benefits – you can actually start consciously helping your body fight diseases.
4. It ups your heart rate and lowers your blood pressure
Many yoga practices are aerobic, and this kind of a workout can lower the risk of heart-attack and depression. And even the parts of yoga that are not aerobic help your heart and your cardiovascular system. It will help lower your resting heart rate, improve oxygen intake and increase your endurance.
On the other hand, it will also help lower your blood pressure. Two studies published in a British medical journal, The Lancet, have shown that people with hypertension, who practiced yoga (Corpse pose) for three months, lowered their systolic blood pressure by 26 points, and their diastolic blood pressure by 15 points.
5. It helps you focus
This is one of the most important components of yoga – focusing on the present. It makes sense that through practicing this way, you will improve your concentration, reaction time, coordination and memory. Research has even shown a boost in IQ scores in long-time yoga practitioners. It is no wonder that those who practice yoga have better abilities to solve problems, as well as acquire and recall information much better and faster.
6. It helps you sleep better
Yoga is just the right amount of stimulation for your body. It will give your nervous system a chance to „chill“, some downtime, so to speak. Pick any position and just relax – after a yoga class you will find yourself just the right amount of tired and, of course, much less stressed. This will help you sleep much better and deeper and make you less prone to illnesses and accidents caused by sleep deprivation.
7. It can soothe your sinuses using sounds
Chanting is another part of yoga that can improve your health. Chanting prolongs exhalation, and when chanting in a group, it can be particularly powerful – both in a physical and emotional way. It will, obviously, keep you in a relaxed state of mind, but there is much more to it. Some studies have shown that the humming sounds, like chanting “Om”, help open the sinuses and facilitate drainage. It really seems that there is no part of your body that yoga won’t be able to soothe!
8. It will boost your self-esteem
Today’s society is rich in people with low self-esteem – this is one of the most common „illnesses“ nowadays. It can lead to many problems in ones social, business and family life. But by practicing yoga and learning its philosophy, you will, with time, gain a more positive approach to the world around you. One of the basic parts of yoga teachings is that each and every one of us is a manifestation of the Divine. Practicing this way of thinking and really putting your mind to it will eventually make you feel more humble, forgiving, grateful, and so on. It will constantly remind you that you can be better and you should be the most you can, and when you reach this state of mind, you will realize that, along with other aspects of your personality, your self-esteem boosted too.
9. It will make you happier
If you are feeling down or even depressed, yoga is the way to go for you. It has been shown that yoga increases the levels of serotonin (the „happy“ hormone) and lowers cortisol. Sitting in a lotus position, humming “Om” or just putting your mind at ease will make you a much happier person.
And, in the end, who wouldn’t be happier considering all the benefits you get every time you practice?