Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility, physical health and mental wellbeing. Despite being created in India over 5,000 years ago, we can now take part in yoga in our local gyms, yoga studios and even via online apps. The advantages of yoga have been praised throughout history and are now arguably more beneficial than ever.
So what actually are the health benefits of yoga? Read on to discover 10 advantages of yoga on your health and wellbeing.
In today’s society, we are often warned about the dangers that prolonged stress can have on our body and health. Yoga is well-known for its ability to ease stress and promote relaxation. Recent studies have suggested that regular yoga practices can lower your levels of cortisol (the primary stress hormone) thereby reducing feelings of stress and anxiety.
Improves Heart Health
Your heart health is vital to your overall wellbeing. One of the main physical benefits of yoga is how it improves your heart health and reduces several risk factors for heart disease including lowering blood pressure. The flow of yoga movements helps to keep blood pumping throughout the whole body and supply muscle tissues with the necessary nutrients and oxygen to help to slow the progression of heart disease.
Studies have found that incorporating yoga as part of your exercise routine as well as making other lifestyle changes such as dietary modifications and stress management can help to improve your overall health as well as your heart health.
Reduces Feelings of Anxiety and Depression
The mental benefits of yoga are widely known, many people even start yoga as a way to cope with feelings of anxiety and depression. Recent studies have found that regular yoga practice (twice a week) significantly lowers levels of anxiety compared to a control group. It is not entirely clear as to how yoga reduces feelings of anxiety and depression however there are strong links to the mindfulness and meditation element of yoga that helps bring people a sense of perspective.
Improve your Quality of Life
One of the main advantages of yoga is that it helps you to reconnect with your body by encouraging meditation and mindfulness. By increasing bodily awareness individuals can be more in tune with your emotions. This understanding of emotions can help shape how you react to situations in order to increase a positive mind-set, and improve quality of life.
Moreover, yoga classes are a great way to meet like-minded people therefore encouraging you to make new friends and increase your support system.
Improve your Sleep Quality
We are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits that a good night’s sleep can bring both physically and mentally. Studies suggest that people who regularly participate in yoga fall asleep faster, sleep for longer and feel more rested the next morning compared to control groups.
This is partly due to yoga increasing the secretion of melatonin (the sleep hormone). Furthermore, yoga has also been found to reduce anxiety, depression, chronic pain and stress- all of which are common contributors to sleep problems.
Improves your flexibility
Many people decide to incorporate yoga into their fitness routine to improve their flexibility and balance, boosting overall performance. Similarly, increasing flexibility through yoga can help reduce joint aches and pains. By moving yourself gradually into the yoga poses this can help to gradually loosen any tight muscles which may be contributing to your bad back or knees.
Promote Healthy Eating Habits
Another advantage of yoga is that it makes you more self-aware meaning you are more likely to eat healthier in order to reward your body with nourishing foods. It can also help people to eat less, the mindfulness element of yoga encourages you to be present in the moment and enjoy the tastes and textures of your food. This will help you to eat slower and help you to feel fuller not only quicker but also for longer too.
Boosts your Immune System
A physical benefit of yoga is that your muscles are constantly contracting and stretching during a flow, this increases the drainage of lymph. This helps your lymphatic system fight infection, destroy dangerous cancerous cells and dispose of toxic waste products of cellular functioning thereby boosting your immunity and helping you keep physically healthier for longer!
Protects your Joints
Increasingly we are being told of the benefits of weight-bearing exercises for our bone health. Many yoga poses require you to hold or lift your own body weight. Some positions in particular, such as Downward Dog, help strengthen your arm bones, which are particularly vulnerable to osteoporotic fractures. As yoga poses often require a full range of motion from the joint, it helps maintain the cerebral fluid around the joint which reduces the risk of osteoarthritis.
Yoga is for Anyone and Everyone!
Yoga is beneficial for anyone and everyone no matter your age or ability. People are often deterred from yoga as they think you have to be flexible to start yoga.
One of the advantages of yoga over other exercises if that you can be any age and feel the benefits. Many people start yoga in their senior years and regret not starting sooner!
Now you’ve had a taster for some of the mental and physical benefits of yoga why not give it a go! At Beckwith Health Club our 60 minute yoga classes offer a complete mind and body workout suitable for all abilities. Check out our website for more information and book into one of our classes for a little ‘you time’.