It’s no wonder yoga has been practiced for thousands of years; it gives its followers a multitude of advantages hard to pass up.
It has physical, emotional and spiritual dimensions, which converge at the goal of bringing practitioners more in tune with themselves, their immediate surroundings and universal energy.
The journey to those goals is strewn with physical and mental exercises that have been proven to reduce or resolve such health-related problems as:
1 Reduced stress and anxiety
One of the benefits most commonly reported by participants is a post-practice sense of relaxation and inner calm that offers a break from the hectic pace of the world. This is the result of the brain releasing hormones and neurotransmitters, which lower stress and anxiety levels instead of those that raise them, which in turn reduces inflammation and other harmful bodily processes.
2 Chronic pain relief
The muscular strength you develop from yoga improves posture and reduces back pain, while stretching extends joints and helps prevent them from breaking down through the loss of cartilage. Spinal disks, like other forms of cartilage, receive most of their nutrients while they’re in use, so the safe use of backbend and twisting poses helps to keep them supple and in place. Yoga can also help reduce arthritis-related pain.
3 Lower blood pressure
Some research has shown yoga practice that includes poses, breathing and meditation can lower blood pressure, while yoga that focuses only on the poses has a lesser positive effect. However, those with untreated high blood pressure are advised to avoid inverted poses that put their heads below their hearts, including headstands, forward bends and Downward Facing Dog.
4 Weight loss
Most forms of yoga aren’t generally considered “cardio,” but some of the more active forms such as vinyasa, hatha and hot yoga are better at revving up metabolism. Research has also shown that restorative yoga, which incorporates slow movement with holding a few poses for extended periods, can help overweight women sustainably lose weight and fat.
Photo: Christine Streveler from Your Soul Shine by Blushing Cactus Photography