Some may confuse yoga with mediation. While both share common elements they are essentially different. The goal of practicing yoga is to build strength, awareness, and relaxation in both body and mind. The good thing about yoga is that it doesn’t matter whether you are a professional gymnastic or the least athletic person in the class. There are variations for every yoga pose that can be adapted to the level of the class (beginner, intermediate, advanced…) The purpose of starting from the bottom is to learn how your body works and to challenge your limitations to get better every day. There are tons of yoga schools and different ways of teaching it, however, most yoga lessons include breathing exercises, meditation, and different positions/postures to stretch the body. You will be surprised once we tell you all of the health benefits that yoga can have on the human body and mind!
Healthy Benefits of Practicing Yoga
- Improves flexibility: If you continue practicing yoga you will see how your flexibility increases over time
- Increase muscle strength: Having strong muscles protect us from conditions like arthritis or back pain
- Prevents the breakdown of cartilage and joints: When practicing yoga, your joints are in their full array of motion.
- Increases blood flow: Yoga gets the blood flowing and gets more oxygen to the cells
- Serves as a regulator of adrenal glands: yoga helps decrease cortisol levels which in turn contributes to a better immune system.
- Makes you happier: A study found that practicing yoga improves depression and increases serotonin levels.
- Lowers blood pressure: For those who have high blood pressure, yoga is very helpful
- Decreases blood sugar: Yoga helps decrease the levels of sugar in the blood as well as the LDL (bad cholesterol) while increasing the HDL (good cholesterol)
- Improves focus: Several studies have shown that practicing yoga regularly, improves coordination, reaction time, memory, and even IQ scores
- Increases self-esteem: Practicing yoga regularly with the objective of introspection and improvement helps develop feelings of gratitude, empathy, and forgiveness.
Aside from this, there are lots more of different benefits of practicing yoga. While the ones described are more physical and internal, yoga practice also brings mental benefits. One of the best benefits is that yoga helps a person cope with stress which has negative effects on the body and the mind. Stress can appear in different forms: through back/neck problems, sleeping problems, headache, substance abuse… And this is where yoga comes in, to help develop coping skills and a more positive view of life. Incorporating yoga into your daily life has been found to improves one’s mental well-being: “Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness; increases body awareness; relieves chronic stress patterns; relaxes the mind; centers attention, and sharpens concentration,” says Dr. Nevins, a board-certified osteopathic family physician and certified Kundalini Yoga instructor in Hollywood, California. Then she says that body- and self-awareness are particularly beneficial, “because they can help with early detection of physical problems and allow for early preventive action.”