The Surprising Health Benefits of Yoga

The Surprising Health Benefits of Yoga

  • Arna Van Ravestein

Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just a beginner, yoga is an excellent exercise to add to your exercise regimen.  No matter your age or fitness level, you can reap many of its amazing benefits.

What is Yoga?  

Yoga was first practiced in Northern India over 5,000 years ago. In its simplest terms, yoga uses the perfect combination of breathing exercises, various postures and meditation to provide a fun, yet challenging workout.

Health Benefits of Yoga

Yoga is excellent for both the body and the mind. Here are a few of its amazing benefits:

Improved heart health

Yoga has been shown to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. The deep breathing exercises slow the heartrate, which can help a person relax, while decreasing blood pressure levels simultaneously.

Better sleep quality

Getting adequate rest is essential to good health and improved productivity. Yoga increases the production of melatonin, a hormone that naturally regulates the wake-sleep cycle.1 

Increased strength and weight loss

By using bodyweight as resistance, yoga has been shown to increase strength and decrease body fat.2

Improves posture

Unbeknownst to many, poor posture has been linked to a variety of ailments, such as aggravating arthritis, fatigue, jaw pain, headaches, back pain, protruding pot belly and many more. Yoga helps to bring the body back into alignment, thus relieving many of these health issues without the use of medication.  

Alleviate digestive problems

The various twisting poses helps blood, food and waste travel through the digestive tract (and the body overall) more efficiently. This can help ease bouts of constipation, which over the long term, decreases the risk of colon cancer.

Improves bone health

The weight-bearing exercises used in yoga help to strengthen the bones, helping to protect against osteoporosis.

Increased flexibility

A lack of flexibility can lead to a wide range of issues, such as muscle tears, tight tendons, and muscle pulls, which can increase the risk of having scar tissue. The increased flexibility yoga provides helps to relieve stiffness and increase range of motion.

Reduces stress, anxiety and depression

A recent study found that eight weeks of yoga helped reduce the severity of depression in test subjects.3  Yoga stimulates the production of serotonin, a chemical that plays a role in happiness. Symptoms of low serotonin include negative thoughts, low energy, depression and anxiety.

Improved breathing techniques

Yoga places special emphasis on deep breathing techniques, filling the lungs with precious oxygen that is transported throughout the body. Deep breathing also helps to bring a sense of calm and relaxation, which can help ease stress and anxiety.  In addition, deep breathing helps reduce shallow breathing, which has been linked to a variety of health problems, such as a buildup of carbon dioxide in the body, anxiety, stress, and asthma.

Something For Everyone

Yoga is a great way for people of all ages and fitness levels to strengthen both the body and the mind. In addition to obvious benefits such as increased strength and flexibility, it benefits the body in other unexpected ways, such as by increasing levels of serotonin, improving sleep quality and alleviating health issues caused by poor posture.  

Give yoga a try. Your body will thank you.

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