When I first used to hear of the word yoga, I used to think of it as something spiritual and related to philosophy. This is the thought can develop when a person first hears this word. The word very much sounds like that. While yoga does include that, but all that is just a part of it.
Yoga is practiced for thousands of years. Yoga is an ancient practice that connects the body, mind, and spirit through body poses, controlled breathing, and meditation.
Yoga is often wrongly conceived as something limited to asanas and poses. It even involves meditation, breathing exercises along with asanas and poses.
Yoga is not something which is just meant for elderly people. Every person can benefit from yoga in some way.
Some people think that yoga is just meant for improving flexibility because of the type of asanas and poses it involves. But this is not correct. Yoga does help greatly in increasing flexibility, but that’s not its limitation.
Practicing yoga has many benefits, both for mental and physical health. As you know it involves breathing exercises, meditation, and poses, these greatly help with relaxation, reducing stress and mindfulness; all of which constitutes towards mental well being.
While improving flexibility, balance, strength and weight loss are some of the physical health benefits of yoga, but there is a lot more to it. Yoga offers a lot of benefits which we may not even think of when talking about yoga. Its potential yet has been too underexplored and underutilized by people. This practice is taken too lightly.
But, I think when you will come across the benefits of yoga, your mindset will change completely and you may think of giving a lot more importance to yoga. So let’s have a look at them.
1. Increases Your Flexibility
I have already mentioned about this benefit of yoga. It is the most obvious benefit of yoga. When we see some yoga poses, we can actually anticipate that it will definitely help in increasing the flexibility of the body. When starting off, you obviously can’t stretch your body to its limits. You can’t even complete a lot of the beginner poses. This is because you aren’t flexible enough and that is why it hurts.
You even feel your muscles ripping apart. But as you keep on doing it regularly, you will find yourself reaching new levels of stretching every day. This shows that your flexibility is increasing day by day. If you stick to it, your muscles will start loosening which will, in turn, improve your flexibility.
For example, when starting out you may not be able to touch your toes with your hands while sitting with your legs stretched out. But if you stick with yoga, you will notice changes and will gradually get closer to touching your toes and then finally being able to touch your toes. Practicing 15-20 minutes of yoga every day can greatly help in improving your flexibility.
2. Strengthen Your Muscles
People join the gym to build muscles. Yoga will not help you to get bulky but it will definitely strengthen your muscles. Muscles are strengthened through yoga because of the requirement to hold certain poses which require a lot of strength. Many of these poses or asanas require you to hold your body in the air on the support of your limbs increases your strength a lot.
So yoga can help you build muscle strength without lifting weights. Yoga builds up muscle strength without giving up on flexibility, but lifting weights at the gym builds up strength at the cost of flexibility.
3. Improves Posture
Posture training is becoming increasingly important day by day. A good posture is very important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It involves bones, joints, and muscles being in proper alignment so that they can work as efficiently as they can. Improper posture can be a cause of various problems such as back pain and joint pains. Posture training comes along with yoga. Practicing yoga can improve posture as it improves flexibility.
4. Reduces Aches and Pains
This is an important benefit that a person may derive yoga. Back pain and certain other aches in different parts of the body are difficult to treat, especially the ones that are caused due to aging. Yoga can help in getting relief from pain in the muscles, tendons and even chronic pain.
It can treat chronic pain caused by various factors, some of them being carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, and fibromyalgia. Including yoga in your daily routine can help with chronic pain problems. Yoga is a smooth practice which involves smooth body movements which allows the inflamed joints to smoothly glide over one another.
Yoga is a long term, relatively permanent solution for the problem, unlike medicines which are just painkillers. Along with a decrease in the pain, there is no doubt that the flexibility and muscle strength of the person will increase.
5. Aids in Weight Loss
As I have said earlier, yoga is not just about breathing and meditation, there is much more to it other than light stretching.
It has been scientifically proven that yoga lowers cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone which leads to belly fat and weight gain.
Yoga is a completely healthy concept for losing weight. Yoga burns calories strengthen up muscles and reduce belly fat. There are certain poses in yoga which are specially designed for reducing belly fat. As you must have guessed, while helping you lose weight, it will also provide you all of the benefits that I have mentioned.
6. Relief From Stress
Yoga has many benefits for mental health which is equally necessary for the well being of a human being. People are very busy in their office and work life. They are burdened so much with the work which has to be completed within the given deadline, they experience too much stress and fatigue. Time is less, entertainment is less, work is more, more are the commitments and thus stress is more.
And you must be knowing that stress is a major cause for many of the health-related problems.
Also, less the stress, more the calm you are. Stress leads to the increase in the stress hormone cortisol about which we have talked above. It leads to weight gain along with the other set of health problems.
Yoga and meditation make you calm, helps you relax and thus eventually provides you relief from stress.
7. Leads to Better Sleep
An adequate amount of proper sleep is very much important for a healthy body. Sleeping is the activity where the body rests and recovers from the day’s activities. But due to the increasing stress and anxiety, your sleeping pattern gets affected.
Stress keeps you awake or doesn’t let you sleep peacefully. I have already told you about how yoga can help you get relief from stress, this will contribute to a night of better sleep. Yoga helps you to get better sleep by relaxing the mind. Getting proper sleep is adds up to one of the requirements for losing weight.
8. Releases Tension
One of the outcomes of stress is tension. Excessive stress leads to tension. As a result of this, our muscles become tight due to the excessively sedentary lifestyle. Yoga helps in stretching, relaxing, strengthening the muscles.
It could even benefit those suffering from depression, schizophrenia, and other such psychiatric conditions.
9. Lowers blood pressure
Blood pressure problems are very common these days. People have high blood pressure, a condition which is taken very lightly, but actually is very dangerous as it can cause heart attack, stroke, kidney damage, damage to other organs, even memory loss and other severe problems.
It is caused due to various factors, two of the important ones being stress and improper diet. Stress is a major factor in high blood pressure.
As yoga is very helpful in getting relief from stress, it can deal with high blood pressure caused due to stress. People take various medicines regularly to combat high blood pressure. But what I believe is taking medicines is not a solution to this problem, as it doesn’t solve the problem. It just minimizes it for a small interval of time. Proper yoga can be very helpful in reducing and even eliminating stress-induced high blood pressure problems.
10. Increases the Blood Flow
Yoga lowers the blood pressure but increases the blood flow in the body. A good amount of blood supply to the body parts is essential because the blood contains oxygen which is required by the various body cells for their normal functioning. Also, yoga boosts levels of red blood cells and hemoglobin.
Venous blood is wrung out from the internal organs when doing twisting poses. Oxygenated blood inflow happens in these organs when the twist is released.
Yoga leads to more healthy blood.
Isn’t it wonderful that doing just this one thing called yoga can provide you with all of the above benefits; all of which are required for a healthy body and a healthy mind? For a great start to your yoga routine, we have compiled a list of the beginner yoga poses which you must do.