If you do an internet search about yoga you will find a plethora of information pertaining to the history of yoga, types of practices, videos and the benefits of practicing yoga. In recent years the information about the health benefits of yoga has exploded. So is it true or hype? The advantages of practicing yoga on a consistent basis fall into two categories, improved physical and mental health. Without delving too deeply, here’s a review of the myriad of positive reasons to take up a regular yoga practice.
Usually the first thought that comes to mind when people mention yoga is flexibility. Flexibility is one of the first benefits that you will see. Increasing flexibility can decrease aches and pains by improving posture and decreasing muscle imbalances in the body. Posture improvement as the result of yoga will decrease muscle and joint pain over time.
Balance improves with yoga by increasing your proprioception or awareness of the position and the movement of the body. Having good balance is key to preventing falls which is especially important as we age.
Yoga can improve heart health by increasing your heart rate during the practice (dependent upon the type of practice), which provides the same benefits as other forms of aerobic exercise. Decreased blood pressure and blood sugar levels have also been noted from regular yoga practice.
Yoga improves your strength. Again, depending upon the type of yoga practiced, this can vary but during the practice of yoga you are lifting your body weight. Yoga also focuses on increasing your core strength which aides in spine stability for decreasing back pain issues.
Joint health improves by the poses throughout yoga by circulating the synovial fluid at the joints. This decreases cartilage break down.
You may see an improvement in the quality of your sleep after practicing yoga. Yoga nidra is a specific practice, which systematically relaxes the body and mind. And leaves you feeling well rested. This element of yoga bridges the gap between the benefits of body and mind.
As mentioned, yoga decreases stress and anxiety, that negatively impact the body. Yoga acts as an antidepressant by decreasing levels of cortisol in the body.
As you practice yoga, you become more mindful… mindful of what you eat; mindful of the moment rather than past or future. Yoga can increase your self-esteem with positivity and self-acceptance.
So even if some of the benefits of yoga may be hyped, with all the possibilities why not give it a try? Yoga is for everyone at every level. It is something you can enjoy for your entire life!
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