Low-impact exercise has some major advantages. We rounded up the top ten benefits of yoga, so you can decide whether yoga is something worth pursuing as part of your workout routine. Keep reading to learn more!
1. Increased Agility, Flexibility, and Strength
One of the most noticeable advantages to doing yoga is improved flexibility and range of motion. If you have ever taken a yoga class before, it is quite likely that you couldn’t touch your toes or stretch into a backbend. Everyone experiences limitation in life, but agility is a skill you can fine-tune over time. Although sports increase strength, few practices can increase flexibility as much as yoga. Some athletes overcome injuries or debilitating surgeries by pursuing yoga. This discipline repairs the body, as well as strength in ligaments and connective tissues.
2. Enhanced Cognition and Memory
It is no surprise that breathing and stretching can enhance cognitive functioning, but yogis are also proven to be better at learning and retaining high levels of concentration. Whether you call it Zen, pranayama, or ujjayi, your breathing facilitates inner stillness and awareness. Many of these benefits are attributed to meditation. When chronically high, cortisol levels can undermine memory and may lead to permanent changes in your brain. Yoga lowers cortisol levels and can even fend off depression or stress.
3. Normalized Body Weight
Even an hour of yoga a day can normalize body weight by restoring hormonal balance in the body. Though yoga may not burn as many calories as cycling or lifting, it can lower levels of cortisol and regulate the adrenal glands. Your adrenal glands secrete cortisol in response to acute crisis, which temporarily boosts immune function. By practicing yoga, you can reduce weight gain and the risk of diabetes or heart attack.
4. Reduced Pain
As we mentioned earlier, yoga is an excellent solution for injured athletes or patients recuperating from painful surgeries. If you suffer from fibromyalgia, arthritis, or migraines, you can effectively reduce pain by trying asana, meditation, or a combination of the two. Furthermore, people with bad posture or dysfunctional movement patterns tend to suffer from poor proprioception. Fend off knee problems or back pain by practicing yoga.
5. Increased Respiratory Efficiency
Yoga is one of the few practices that utilized pranayama, or the cultivation of life force through breathing. Some yogis practice pranayama as a means to reach higher states of awareness, but there are serious side benefits. Yoga can increase lung capacity and create more tidal volume. The pace of breathing also plays a large part in your overall lifespan, and yoga teaches you to take fewer breaths of greater volume.
6. Normalized Blood Pressure
Though jumping jacks and squats may make you feel dizzy from circulation, yoga truly gets your blood flowing by utilizing relaxation exercises in your hands and feet. This low-impact exercise gets more oxygen to your cells, which function better as a result. Do you have high blood pressure? Studies have compared common poses to lying on the couch and shown that people with hypertension experienced a significant drop in systolic and diastolic blood pressure while performing yoga. The higher your blood pressure, the bigger the drop.
7. Enhanced Mental Health
While many of us tend to focus on weight loss and gains, we often forget to exercise the mind. Yoga provides a wide array of psychological benefits, including mood improvement and a sense of well-being. Yogis benefit from the slowed mental loops of frustration, regret, anger, fear, or stress. Many health problems can be attributed to anxiety, and yoga helps to regulate your mood so you stay motivated to keep going.
8. Diminished Degenerative Diseases
Of the top ten benefits of yoga, disease prevention is the most astounding and impressive. Yoga can boost your immune system by raising antibody levels in response to vaccines and lowering them when needed. Yoga has been known to reduce the risk of high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, heart disease, and so much more.
9. Boosted Nervous System
Our parasympathetic nervous systems are responsible for a lot – energy conservation, digestive activity, and rest or relaxation. When this part of the nervous system is active, our bodies work hard to respond or minimize stress. Whether your kryptonite is flashing lights, traffic noises, dreaded emails, or tough decisions, yoga can strengthen the activity of your parasympathetic nervous system in a beneficial way that allows you to relax.
10. Unlimited Exercise Opportunities
Even the most dedicated fitness enthusiasts find excuses to skip the gym, but yoga is a bonafide exercise you can perform almost anywhere. Yoga studios are popping up in every major city, but you don’t have to buy into any memberships or invest in expensive gear to take full advantage. There are a wide variety of yoga regimens for every experience level, and you don’t have to be in shape to start. You might want to splurge on a comfy yoga mat or hand towel for the sweat, but this workout is both accessible and timeless.
Now that you know at least ten benefits of yoga, you can finally decide whether this soothing exercise is right for you.