15 Jul Yoga: 8 AMAZING health benefits you didn’t know
People do Yoga for different reasons:
To become more flexible, get fit, reduce stress or for a means to connect with the community.
But the truth is, there is so much more.
Let me break down why Yoga is really good for you in plain English.
1- Mental health:
We all know that exercise is an eﬀective treatment for depression and anxiety. Since yoga is form of exercise, it’s a no brainer that it will benefit our mental health.
But not only that: It is actually way better than any form of exercise, especially for depression and anxiety.
A 2016 study found that yoga reduced anxiety for people with the most severe symptoms and that symptom reduction increased the longer they’d practised yoga.
So how does it work:
Yoga is often referred to as nature’s remedy for anxiety as it stimulates the production of GABA in the brain. GABA is the super-chilled neurotransmiter that calms over-excited neurons – sort of like a natural sedative. That’s why you feel the very popular “yoga high” after class.
2- Blood pressure:
Studies have shown that yoga lowers blood pressure which aids in cardiovascular/heart health and reduces the risk of stroke.
Yoga is exercise and exercise has long been known to lower blood pressure.
Along with the fact that yoga stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which puts the body into “rest and digest” mode over the opposite “fight and flight” which is our stress response.
Stress is something we all experience on a DAILY basis.
When we’re stressed out, things just don’t ﬂow – everything in life feels that a little bit harder.
A stressed out mind is ofen linked to negative thoughts. We have all heard about the power of positive thoughts and that what we believe, we manifest.
Well, in yoga we use our breath to relax our muscles and calm our thoughts that is also known as the monkey mind.
I know I can walk into a yoga class stressed out or worried about something, and leave calmer and more relaxed.
One of the ways yoga helps with stress is by anchoring the mind in the present moment. Rather than what most minds usually do, stress about the past or the future.
4- Bone density:
Because yoga is a weight bearing exercise it is great for helping to build bone density.
In fact, a study found that practicing yoga for only 12 min a day reversed osteoporotic bone loss which is especially important for woman as our bones become more porous with age.
5- Brain function:
Studies show that practicing yoga along with breathing exercises (pranayama) and meditation not only preserves brain function but can improve it.
To put it simply, yoga prevents your brain from shrinking as you age.
In fact, breathing exercises have been shown to improve connectivity between the right and left hemispheres of the brain, which is great for problem solving too.
Flexibility is really about freedom of movement.
Some people are naturally ﬂexible in some joints but not in others.
Some people are scared that they are not ﬂexible enough to begin with, so they never take up yoga.
But know this: you don’t need to be ﬂexible to start yoga, you just have to do it regularly and consistently enough to start noticing the difference.
Flexibility is brilliant at helping prevent injury and bringing some mobility into our lives, that’s why sports enthusiasts use it.
7- Strength and Posture:
Even though yoga is regarded as a gentler form of exercise – I can tell you that it definitely builds strength.
Especially when poses are held for longer periods of time or you are doing Power Yoga which is more cardiovascular based.
For example, if you hold chair pose for five or more breaths it will help to build strength in your leg and but muscles, which in turn helps to protect against lower back pain and injury.
Yoga is also brilliant for posture.
I’ve always tended to hunch over my phone and laptop and the poses that we do in yoga “counter bend” this and improves our posture over time. Backbends and small adjustments like daily “cobra pose” can realign the spine and strengthen the back muscles and stretch out the chest muscles which will in aid pull our shoulders back and help us stand up straight and stronger.
8- Balance and Coordination:
Yoga is balance, balance is yoga.
Physically and spiritually. Yoga creates balance in the body (homeostasis) but you will also be doing allot of balancing poses in a Yoga class.
Coordination is how smoothly our body parts work together and over time, yoga will have you more connected to your body.