Regardless of your level of experience, there are numerous benefits of yoga for both the body and the mind when participating in a regular practice.
Western science has caught on to the benefits of yoga. Finding research and documentation to substantiate these benefits is easier than ever before. School districts, the military, and corporations have started implementing yoga as a safe drug-free practice to benefit their audience’s wellness.
Benefits for the Body
1. Increased Strength & Flexibility
A consistent yoga practice will gradually increase your flexibility. Inflexibility can cause problems like poor posture, pain, and can make you prone to injury. Yoga promotes the lengthening of muscles, connective tissue, and fascia.
The act of holding poses in yoga builds strength and muscle tone. Weight bearing exercises also improve balance, and bone density.
2. Improve Digestion
Introducing a yoga routine helps to improve digestion. Physical activity speeds transportation of food through the digestive system. Reduction of stress levels and stress hormones can also improve stress related digestive disorders like ulcers, and IBS.
3. Weight Management
Yoga reduces stress which also reduces cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone which rises in response to elevated stress levels. Elevated cortisol is associated with insulin resistance, increased blood sugar, and weight gain. Regular practice also leads to improvements in by composition through added muscle mass, and cardiovascular benefits.
Benefits for the Mind
4. Improved Mood
A regular yoga practice provides stress relief, relief from anxiety/ depression and improved mental resilience. You may feel a boost in mood and energy, as well as increased focus and a general reduction in negative feelings.
5. Improved Quality of Sleep
Restorative yoga, yoga nidra, pranayama (breathing exercises), and meditation provide relief from overstimulation and activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the part of our nervous system that signals our body that we are safe and can relax. Gentil yoga prepares your body to fall asleep, and stay asleep with a quality night’s rest.
6. Increase Well-Being
Yoga and meditation practices both promote mindfulness. Becoming more mindful in your daily life promotes increased self-esteem, improved mental resilience, and can foster improved self-image.
This article just scratches the surface when it comes to the benefits of yoga. If you are interested in learning more about the research behind these benefits visit Yoga Alliance’s Scientific Research on Yoga page here>>. Here you can find references to specific research studies on yoga in general, relating to special populations, and dealing with specific diseases and disorders.
For information on how to get started with your own yoga practice read my previous blog article How to Start Your Yoga Practice in 4 Easy Steps.
As always before starting any new physical practice be sure to check with your doctor.