Benefits of Yoga

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Engaging in yoga regularly can have many mental and physical health benefits. Although some may view yoga as just “posing” for long periods of time, it is actually an intense workout, especially when heat is added to the mix. Yoga can curate a sense of peace, reduce stress, ease anxiety and depression, and balance heart rate and breathing. Here are some little-known benefits of practicing yoga.

Increased Flexibility: Now this one may be a given. Practicing yoga can improve flexibility and mobility and also increase range of motion. Over time, the stretches will lengthen muscles and tendons, increasing flexibility. If you run, weight train, or are involved of any kind of sport, increasing flexibility will increase range of motion so movement feels more fluid.

Increased Strength: Although only bodyweight is used during yoga, the poses and stretches engage muscles not typically used.. Regularly practicing yoga can also help to relieve muscle tension.

Stress Relief: As with most forms of exercise, yoga helps aid in the physical and mental effects of stress, which activates a release of the stress hormone, cortisol. Stress can cause muscle tension, fatigue, stomach issues, etc. Practicing yoga has demonstrated a reduction of cortisol.

Breathing: Along the lines of stress relief comes breathing. A breathing practice called pranayama is incorporated in yoga, which is an effective way to reducing the response to stress while improving lung function and promoting relaxation. Pranayama emphasizes slowing down and deepening the breath, which relaxes the body. By changing the pattern of breathing, the influence stress has on the body can be controlled. I would consider this the most beneficial aspect of yoga.

Pain Relief: Yoga can promote pain relief for those that have conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune diseases and hypertension as well as arthritis, back and neck pain and other chronic conditions.

Weight Management: While the evidence that supports the belief that yoga promotes weight loss is experiential rather than scientific, those that practice yoga argue that it does in fact help support weight loss. Although there is not much scientific evidence of this being true, it is true that yoga encourages living a healthier lifestyle; it encourages positive self-image and more importance is put on nutrition and taking care of the body all together.

Cardiovascular Conditioning: Yoga of any kind can provide cardiovascular benefits by lowering resting heart rate, increased endurance and improving oxygen intake during exercise.

Hangover Helper: Although working out of any kind is the last thing on your mind when hungover, yoga can actually help with your hangover. According to yogajournal, a Colorado-based instructor came up with 6 poses to help when you’ve had too many.

Inner Peace: Yoga promotes meditative effects when practiced consistently. In can help grow inner peace and overall calmness. It also connects the body and mind to the present moment. It improves concentration, coordination, reaction time, and memory. The more time is spent practicing, the more aware you become of the world around you.