THE BENEFITS OF YOGA
The practice of yoga encourages effort, intelligence, accuracy, focus, and dedication. Dating back more than 5000 years, yoga is an ancient Indian philosophy designed as a path to spiritual enlightenment. However, it is the many health benefits of yoga that have found huge popularity in modern times. Western science is starting to provide some concrete clues as to how yoga works to improve health, heal aches and pains, and increase mental strength. Yoga is built on three main elements- exercise, breathing, and meditation. When practiced regularly, yoga can become a powerful and sophisticated discipline for achieving physical, mental and emotional well-being.
One of the first and most obvious benefits of yoga is the gradual improvement of flexibility. It may be daunting during your first class when you probably won’t be able to touch your toes. Everyone has been there. But if you stick with it you’ll notice a gradual loosening, and eventually, seemingly impossible poses will become possible- and even comfortable.
Toned and Sculpted Body
Anyone who has ever tried yoga knows dumbbells are not the only way to sculpt. In addition to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight, yoga can help build lean muscle and will define and tone existing muscle. Yoga is strength training. In certain poses you’re lifting your entire body weight. And the beauty is, when you build strength through yoga, you balance it with flexibility- thereby creating a long, lean, sculpted silhouette.
Focus and Concentration
Regular practice of yoga has been proven to help with memory and concentration, and in recent studies, it’s even been shown to help prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease. Yoga is not just about working out, it’s about a healthy lifestyle. The practice of yoga allows students to be still in a world consumed with chaos. This can really help focus your mind and increase awareness and control over your body.
Less Aches and Pains
Yoga poses improve posture and strengthen your back muscles to keep aches and pains at bay. Lower back pain sufferers who did two 90-minute yoga classes a week for 6 months eased soreness by 56 percent, while others who were given pain medication and physical therapy lessened the hurt by only 16 percent. Putting your joints and spinal disks through their full range of motion will keep them supple and can even help prevent degenerative arthritis.
Regular yoga practice helps you relax, making it easier to switch off and have a deeper sleep. After 2 months of doing a 45-minute yoga session before bed, insomniacs fell asleep 15 minutes faster and slept for an hour longer each night.
Still not convinced? Yoga can even improve your love life! It helps to reduce anxiety and increase body love. Women who practiced regularly rated their body satisfaction 20 percent higher than did those who took aerobics, even though both groups were at a healthy weight. Yoga also increases body awareness and speeds up the release of hormones that cause arousal. The secret may be that yoga asks you to tune into how your body feels – not just how it looks. All of that translates to a boost in libido. You can thank us later.
Yoga is a renowned antidote to stress. As part of the yoga routine, you are forced to clear your mind and focus on your body and breathing. Over time, yoga practitioners report lower levels of stress, and increased feelings of happiness and well being. Women who had gone to the mat at least once a week for two years or more released 41 percent less of a tension-triggered cytokine that can make you feel tired and moody. This is because concentrating on the postures and the breath acts as a powerful form of meditation.