Yoga and its Benefits
You’re never too young or too old to reap the health benefits of yoga. Find out how all types of yoga can improve your health.
Yoga, the Sanskrit word for “union”, is a practice that uses posture and breathing techniques to induce relaxation and improve strength, and its health benefits may surpass those of any other activity. Whether you practice yoga to relax, stretch, breathe, meditate, or simply because it’s in fashion, you may not realize the numerous health benefits of yoga. And while there are many different kinds of yoga, ranging from the more gentle hatha yoga to the more strenuous, like Bikram yoga (which is performed in a 105°F room) or power yoga, every form of yoga improves your health from head to toe. Here are some of yoga’s many health benefits.
Benefits of Yoga to Your Bones, Muscles, and Joints
- The physical benefits of yoga are myriad. Yoga keeps your body strong, as it involves all the muscles in your body to hold and balance yoga asanas (poses). The various yoga postures strengthen your feet, legs, hands, abdominals, lower back, legs, and shoulders.
- Yoga’s stretching and breathing exercises improve your flexibility, helping joints, tendons, and muscles stay limber. People suffering from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis will see a noticeable improvement in their stiffness, pain, and other arthritic symptoms by practicing yoga poses and postures.
- Yoga improves your endurance, especially the more athletic forms of yoga such as ashtanga yoga, power yoga, vinyasa yoga, and Bikram yoga. These rigorous yoga practices follow a specific sequence of poses (asanas) that become more challenging as you progress. Unlike the more gentle hatha yoga, the forms of ashtagna yoga, power yoga, vinyasa yoga, and Bikram yoga require you to keep your body in constant motion between poses, resulting in a strenuous cardiovascular workout and improved core strength.
- Hatha yoga can relieve chronic back and neck pain, since the poses and postures gently stretch and strengthen your back and neck muscles.
- Yoga is often prescribed to help heal various injuries, including repetitive strain injuries, knee and back injuries, pulled hamstrings, even minor skin burns. Of course, you should consult your physician before using yoga as a treatment for any injury!
- Yoga is an excellent weight-bearing exercise that can improve your bone density. This is particularly beneficial for women approaching menopause, since yoga can help ward off osteoporosis, or thinning of the bone.
Benefits of Yoga to the Cardiovascular System
Yoga has tremendous health benefits for your heart. Most notably:
- The gentler forms of yoga lower your blood pressure because the asanas (yoga poses, postures, and yoga positions) keep blood flowing evenly throughout your body while you focus on your breathing.
- People suffering from hypertension can benefit from yoga tremendously, as hatha yoga can lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
- Many practitioners claim that yoga has also lowered their cholesterol.
- Power yoga is an excellent form of cardio conditioning, which strengthens core muscles while it keeps blood and oxygen circulating throughout your body.
Benefits of Yoga on Mental Health
- Yoga benefits anyone’s mental health by helping him or her relax, and it is an effective form of psychological therapy. Yoga reduces anxiety and stress, resulting in better health, better mood, and better concentration throughout the day. Yoga has been used to help treat a wide variety of emotional and mental disorders, including acute anxiety, depression, and mood swings.
- Even children can benefit from yoga. Those with attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity can learn to relax and get control by using yoga breathing and yoga asanas.
- Because yoga is a form of meditation, it results in a sense of inner peace and purpose, which has far-reaching health benefits.
- Yoga has been used to help heal victims of torture or other trauma.
Benefits of Yoga on Other Health Conditions
- Do you have frequent headaches? Yoga can rid you of tension headaches and migraines because yoga circulates blood and oxygen to your head, which can often prevent headaches from starting.
- A regular yoga practice helps boost antioxidants throughout your body, resulting in a stronger immune system and improved ability to heal quickly from disease or injury.
- Yoga can help you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight throughout your life. Power yoga is a vigorous form of yoga that burns calories, resulting in weight loss.
- Many women going through menopause report an easing of symptoms when they begin practicing yoga.
Benefits of Yoga in Everyday Life
- Yoga can help cure insomnia, as regular yoga practice leads to better and deeper sleep.
- Yoga can help fight fatigue and maintain your energy throughout the day.
- Yoga is an effective treatment for a variety of autoimmune diseases because it can reduce the symptoms these diseases often cause, such as stiffness, malaise, fatigue, and weakness.
Regular yoga practice will create multiple and noticeable benefits to your health. Try some yoga postures today! And as your instructor will no doubt tell you at the end of your practice: Namaste.