Beyond The Mat: The Many Health Benefits of Yoga

There are plenty of reasons why more than 300 million people across the globe are into yoga. In the US alone, 36.7 million practice the activity. Yoga attracts people for different motivations, including stress relief, flexibility, and physical and mental health. The good news is that studies suggest that it is a safe and effective way of increasing physical activity, strength, and balance. Evidence also points to the benefits of yoga in relieving pain, improving heart health, managing stress levels, and promoting positive feelings.

Taking Care Of Your Body

Yoga has real health benefits, and one of the major advantages is that it can increase your flexibility and improve your balance. When you practice tree pose, for example (a pose involving balancing on one foot while holding your other foot to your calf at a right angle), you learn how to breathe properly, focus, and balance. Good flexibility and balance are important, not only in day-to-day living, but also in sports, allowing you to work through easier and deeper movements while building strength and stability. For example, if you’re into surfing, yoga can improve your focus, breath control, and strength and flexibility. 

Yoga can even help in lowering your cholesterol levels by helping you lose weight and decreasing your blood pressure.

In fact, there is a growing body of research that suggests that yoga can play an important role in improving physical health. It can help with chronic pain because when you stretch, you ease pain and improve your mobility. What’s more, the American College of Physicians recommends the activity as a ‘first-line treatment’ for persistent low back pain. Yoga also relieves the symptoms of arthritis, easing some of the discomfort of swollen joints. On a physical level alone, yoga comes with many health benefits.

Improving Your Mental Health And Wellbeing

There’s more to yoga than its physical benefits, however. According to a John Hopkins research study, a regular bedtime yoga routine can make you sleep better. Yoga can also increase your levels of mental and physical energy, boosting alertness and creating fewer negative feelings. In addition, it helps you to manage stress, mindfulness, and healthy eating habits, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Another positive benefit of yoga is its ability to protect the brain from shrinking as you age, as suggested by a May 2015 study on the ‘Neuroprotective effects of yoga practice: age, experience, and frequency-dependent plasticity’ by Villemure et al. Gray matter volume, which is found in the left side of your brain, is associated with positive emotions, including responses to relaxation. In another study, brain changes were found showing growth in the regions that oversee learning, memory, and emotions. On the other hand, the areas of the brain responsible for stress, fear, and anxiety were found to shrink.

Yoga is an activity that promotes many physical and mental advantages, including improvement in balance, strength, flexibility, moods and sleep, as well as being important in the prevention of certain diseases. By practicing yoga, you reap the benefits in all areas, resulting in an improved overall wellbeing.

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