The ancient practice of yoga for better health is more popular than ever before. Varying types of yoga classes are popping up at wellness and community centers, as well as gyms, across the country and even around the world. You can choose from standard yoga, power yoga, chair yoga, gentle yoga, hot yoga and many more. No matter what style you choose and no matter what your age, there are dozens of advantages to partaking in this ages-old training exercise.
There are numerous interesting and valid reasons, both physical and psychological, to start practicing yoga. Here are 10 benefits of yoga that everyone can appreciate:
Improves Emotional Health
Participants in yoga classes experience higher levels of oxytocin and serotonin production, which increase feelings of happiness and bonding. It is a great option not only for the average individual, but for those suffering from depression, sleep disturbance, schizophrenia and other psychiatric problems. Those who practice yoga for the long-term gain even more.
Relieves Back Pain
People who participate in yoga regularly experience more freedom of movement, greater spinal flexibility and some alleviation from pain. Studies have shown that yoga may be more effective than traditional treatment methods for the most common problems with the back.
Many individuals do not take the time to ensure that they are standing and sitting appropriately. Keeping the head balanced properly takes work. When aligned, the back and neck muscles work together for mutual support. Leaning too far forward or back strains these muscles and leads to fatigue, pain and join problems in the neck and back, as well as causing pain and spinal arthritis.
Averts the Degeneration of Joints and Cartilage
Many yoga poses demand full range of motion of the joints, which prevents disabling arthritis and its painful symptoms. In addition, yoga ensures that cartilage receives fresh nutrients each time it is used to the fullest. Cartilage that is infrequently utilized wears out more quickly.
Guards the Spine
The discs in the spine between the vertebrae – or shock absorbers – require movement to get necessary nutrients flowing to them. Discs will remain supple with twisting and forward and backward bending. Herniated discs are due to damage from infrequent use.
Improves Bone Health
There is a lot of documentation to prove that bones are strengthened and osteoporosis deterred from weight-bearing exercise. Several yoga poses like upward and downward-facing dog strengthen the bones of the arms, which are highly susceptible to osteoporotic fracturing. Bone density is also increased and cortisol levels lowered, keeping the supply of calcium within the bones.
Blood Flow Increases
All the movement that occurs during yoga keeps the blood flowing, allows more oxygen to reach the cells and hemoglobin and red blood cells are boosted. Blood thins slightly, which can decrease the incidence of stroke and heart attack due to blood clots.
Expands Your Flexibility
This is one of the most obvious advantages to practicing yoga. Over time, you will find that your body is not as tight and that an ache or pain here or there is gone. Inflexible muscles and connective tissue strain joints and can cause pain elsewhere in the body.
While a muscular physique is attractive, strong muscles also protect against back pain and arthritis and prevent the prevalence of falls in the elderly. Building muscle also increases flexibility.
Eliminating both physical and mental tension are fantastic yoga side-effects. Refreshing the mind with calm thoughts while performing balanced moves improves cognitive function and clarity.
Since 3000 BC, practitioners have enjoyed and benefitted from yoga. It helps the individual become more focused on themselves for a time and is an excellent way to refresh the body and soul. The Hindu scripture Bhagavad-Gita states that, “A person is said to have achieved yoga, the union with the Self, when the perfectly disciplined mind gets freedom from all desires, and becomes absorbed in the Self alone.” While not a religion, it is a way of life that helps to encourage a healthy body and positive mind.
If you are not already sold on practicing yoga, give it a try. Recognize these and countless other benefits of yoga by joining a beginner’s class at your local gym or community center. There are a variety of class options for children through seniors. You may be surprised at how much better you feel afterward! Get hooked on becoming healthier in the new year.