Top 5 Amazing Health Benefits of Yoga
The many health benefits of yoga are nothing short of amazing. I have personally experienced the power of yoga’s physical and energetic transformation, as I know many others have.
I’ve lost weight since I started practicing. I sleep much more soundly. I am overflowing with energy. And I truly credit yoga with healing my lower back pain.
So I knew yoga worked for me, but I didn’t really know WHY until I became a yoga teacher and started researching the science behind it. Yoga is not just some mystical art. There’s actual research that supports the myriad of health benefit claims.
So let’s get onto it, shall we?
1. Yoga Increases Flexibility, Strength, and Balance
Flexibility, strength, and balance. All primary reasons why a lot of people are first drawn to yoga.
Yoga is infamous for developing flexibility (thank you, Instagram), but that’s only a small piece of the pie. On top of increasing flexibility, yoga also tones your muscles (by using the weight of your body to build overall strength) and helps with balance and mobility. This is especially important as we age.
All of these physical benefits found in one low-impact exercise? Pretty cool, I say.
2. Yoga Lowers Stress Levels
Stress is a killer. And unfortunately, it seems like just about everyone is stressed out these days.
Cortisol is the “stress hormone.” High cortisol levels lower our immune function, increase heart disease, mess with our learning and memory, and more. Cortisol literally rots our bodies from the inside out. (How’s that for an image?)
Here’s the good news: Yoga is an amazing stress buster! It encourages you to slow down, focus on your breathing, and be present in the moment. This helps to calm and clear your mind.
Yoga actually lowers our cortisol levels and also activates our parasympathetic nervous system, which is basically our body’s “healing mode.” Once our body goes into healing mode, we get all sorts of benefits. Our body can finally rest and repair itself.
3. Yoga Fights Depression and Anxiety
Yoga improves our emotional health and helps fight depression and anxiety.
Practicing yoga in a group class releases oxytocin, the love and bonding hormone. And recent studies have shown that a long-term yoga and meditation practice results in higher serotonin levels (otherwise known as the happiness hormone) and also increases mass in the section of the brain associated with contentment.
4. Yoga Helps You Sleep Better
Yoga increases the melatonin in your body, which is the hormone that regulates sleep.
Sleep problems have been associated with many health problems including high blood pressure, depression, obesity, stress, and chronic pain. And since yoga helps promote better sleep, it has a huge hand in improving these conditions.
A combination of deep breathing techniques and relaxing poses like child’s pose and “Legs up the Wall” pose are very effective at coaxing your body into a good night’s sleep.
5. Yoga Promotes a Mind-Body Connection
Finally, yoga helps you become more mindful by increasing awareness to the sensations that a pose or sequence brings up. This trains you to notice what’s going on in your body, on the mat as well as off the mat. You start to feel if something isn’t quite right.
Increasing the mind-body connection will also help you in other surprising ways. For example, you might learn to differentiate actual feelings of hunger from just an emotional urge to eat. This awareness decreases binge eating and could even lead to weight loss.
Wrapping things up…
This is only a small sampling of the many health benefits of yoga. Yoga has also been proven to improve posture, relieve migraines, promote joint health, heart health, and even improve people’s sex lives!
The best thing is, there’s no need to be an expert yogi. (Beginner yogis can reap just as many benefits as long-term practitioners.) There’s certainly no need to twist yourself into a pretzel with your feet behind your head. Finding even just a few minutes a day to incorporate yoga into your routine can make a radical difference to your health and well-being.
Have you experienced any of the health benefits of yoga? And what else do you hope yoga can do for you? Leave a comment below and share!