Yoga is one of the best ways to improve your physical and mental health. It can be both challenging and relaxing at the same time, and you’ll feel great at the end of a session. Here are 10 of the biggest changes yoga could make in your life.
Yoga has many physical benefits, and improved flexibility is one of the most important. Progress takes time, but with regular sessions, it won’t be long before you can hold poses that you could only dream of attempting before.
Greater flexibility comes with a range of positive side effects, including better posture and fewer aches, pains and injuries. Inflexible hips can cause referred pain in almost every area of your body, particularly your knees, but yoga can help to prevent this.
Yoga will give you far more muscle strength than many people imagine, especially when you start doing more advanced poses. Lots of fit, strong and healthy individuals are surprised by how sore they are after their first few yoga sessions.
Core strength is particularly important for yoga, and your lower back and abdominal muscles will thank you for the workout. A strong core will improve your posture, prevent certain types of back pain and make falls less likely.
All weight-bearing exercises are good for your bones if you do them properly, and yoga is no exception. Regular yoga practitioners have greater bone density than their sedentary peers, which makes broken bones less likely. Yoga also guards against the onset of such degenerative diseases like osteoporosis.
The cartilage in your joints contains fluids that need to be regularly squeezed out and replaced. By utilizing the full range of motion of your joints, yoga encourages this essential fluid movement to take place. This stops your cartilage from being worn down, giving you healthier joints and preventing arthritis.
A healthier spine
Your spine also needs to be moved on a regular basis if it’s going to perform as it should. Yoga exercises like twists, backbends and forward bends can help to prevent debilitating hernias and damaging nerve compression, as well as improve your overall spinal health.
However, the spine can be quite delicate, so care should always be taken with bending and twisting exercises. A good yoga instructor will be able to advise you on any poses that you should avoid.
A healthier heart
Regular aerobic exercise has been shown to lower your chances of suffering from cardiovascular disease, which is why practicing yoga — particularly more vigorous forms like ashtanga — is excellent for the heart.
Yoga will lower your resting heart rate, a good indicator that your overall health and fitness are improving. Also, the rate at which your body can use oxygen (your VO2 max) is likely to increase, which is another good sign.
Lower blood pressure
Yoga lowers the blood pressure of regular practitioners, one of many reasons that it’s often recommended as part of a recovery program for stroke patients. Hypertension is the leading cause of heart-related mortality in the world, so yoga could genuinely save your life.
Some of the scientific research in this area is remarkable. Holding the corpse pose (savasana) has been shown to lower your blood pressure significantly more than simply lying down.
Yoga can help you lose weight in three different ways. First of all, yoga burns calories, which is essential for dropping those extra pounds. Secondly, if you look around a yoga class, you’ll often find yourself surrounded by people leading fit and healthy lifestyles. Their enthusiasm and positive attitudes often have a great knock-on effect. Finally, the empowering spiritual side of yoga causes some individuals to proactively tackle any personal issues they may have with diet or weight.
Although many people think yoga is only good for the body, it can also have a profound positive impact on the brain as well. Benefits like improved coordination won’t come as a surprise to most yoga practitioners, but faster reaction times, better memory and even increased IQ have all been linked to yoga as well.
Better mental health
Besides improved cognitive abilities, yoga can also help with a variety of mental health issues. Yoga has often been shown to play an important role in treating patients suffering from depression, which is thought to affect more than 350 million people around the world.
Yoga is known to increase serotonin levels and cause greater activity in the left prefrontal cortex of the brain, and both of these things lead to feelings of well-being and happiness. The longer you practice yoga, the more you’ll notice the positive effects on your mood and mental health.
With the potential to make you happier, healthier and stronger, yoga truly can have a transformative impact on every area of your life. What better reason could there be to take up yoga today?