Yoga is a practice that originated in India, the word Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word “yuj” which means to unite and yoke. This means that Yoga involves several holistic practices such as mental and physical practices which aim to promote overall well-being. It also incorporates physical posture (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation which unites the mind and body to promote a sense of inner peace, balance, and well-being. Let’s explore 8 benefits of Yoga.
- Better Posture; Yoga focuses on body mobility and flexibility, which can contribute to better alignment of the muscles, especially for those who spend long hours sitting at a desk or working on a computer, which can lead to being hunched. Practicing yoga regularly can lead to the alignment of your body’s position leading to an improved posture.
- Strength Building; Some form of yoga includes activities that can build strength, and poses like Downward Dog, Plank, and Warrior sequences focuses on some muscles in the body, which can help develop and tone your muscles leading to improved functional strength. Also, as you keep practicing, there is increased strength in your core, legs, and upper body.
- Emotional Well-being; Yoga involves guided meditation which has an impact on our mood and mental health. According to studies, regular practice increases levels of serotonin, which is known as the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter, this reduces conditions like depression, and stress levels which promotes emotional well-being. Also, research suggests that yoga nidra can reduce anxiety disorders.
- Weight Management; although yoga is not like other forms of exercise, it can help support weight management and weight loss. Some styles of yoga such as power yoga and hot yoga are more demanding physically so they can help with weight loss by burning calories and building lean muscles. Yoga also helps boost metabolism and promotes mindful eating.
- Better Breathing; Pranayama as a form of yoga has to do with breath control, it focuses on diaphragmatic breathing which can improve lung capacity, increase oxygen in the body, and promote better respiratory health. This form of yoga is beneficial for individuals with respiratory conditions like Asthma by reducing the severity of their symptoms.
- Stress Reduction; yoga comprises mindful breathing, relaxation techniques, and meditation which can help relieve stress and lessen tension. Deep breathing in yoga helps promote a relaxation response, it reduces the production of stress hormones like cortisol which in turn promotes a sense of calm.
- Cardiovascular Function; yoga can improve the heart rate and cardiovascular fitness, regular practice of some yoga styles like vinyasa and power yoga can help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, and promote overall health. According to research, a controlled pace of breathing in yoga can benefit the cardiovascular system by making changes in heart rate, stroke capacity, arterial pressure, and contractility of the heart.
- Boost the Immune System; Stress, especially chronic stress can affect your immune system, yoga boosts the immune system by reducing stress and enhancing circulation which promotes overall well-being. A healthier immune system helps your body fight infections and illness. Yoga also boosts the immune system by fighting inflammation, this happens because yoga breathing exercises can balance the autonomic nervous system which can reduce the body’s inflammatory response by calming the systematic nervous system and enhancing the parasympathetic nervous system.
Yoga is a form of workout that is beneficial to those who do not want to engage in intense workouts, however, consistency is key to harnessing the full benefits. Several yoga forms offer different benefits based on individual needs, if you have a health condition, it is advisable you consult your healthcare provider before embarking on any yoga session.