Yoga, according to Wikipedia means a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India.
Yoga involves physical exercises, widely known as the asanas, which result in increased flexibility, coordination, and strength. It also involves breathing practices and meditation, which helps to calm the mind and maintain focus, leading to the development of greater awareness levels and diminished anxiety. This results in a higher quality of life for the practitioner.
So now, if you are looking for motivation to start your yoga practice, then let me give you some benefits of doing yoga. It is my promise that by the time you finish reading this post, you will have, not one but, 10 reasons to start your yoga practice immediately.
Helps to Reduce Stress & Anxiety
Yoga can really help in easing stress and lowering your cortisol and adrenaline levels. Cortisol is a hormone involved in the managing of metabolism in the cells that regulate stress within the body. Adrenaline is another hormone that is released in a person’s body in response to a strong emotion (such as excitement, fear, or anger). It can cause the heart to beat faster.
Higher levels of cortisol in a person can cause major depression, high blood pressure, insulin resistance as well as osteoporosis. Whereas when Adrenaline is released a person may experience rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, anxiety, excessive sweating, and palpitations.
Yoga keeps the cortisol & adrenaline levels well balanced and regular yoga practice actually helps to reduce the risk of all these.
Helps to Release Tension & Relax your System
Yoga makes you more aware of your body and helps release all the tension you hold. During your practice itself, you can feel the stress and tension oozing out of your body. When you are performing a guided yoga session, whether at home or in the yoga class, you are concentrating. This focus helps you forget what the cause of your stress was in the first place. You can see the difference in you, right from the first session itself.
Meditation and other breathing exercises help you relax by lowering your heart rates and normalizing your blood pressure.
Helps Build Muscle Strength & Betters Bone Health:
In many yoga asanas you are required to lift your own body weight, by either supporting yourself on your arms or shoulder or even head. In many other asanas, you are required to do pushups by lowering and raising your body with the help of your arms.
Such similar poses build muscle strength and core strength, as well as helps to strengthen the bones. Thus, it lessens the chances of osteoporosis. Yoga’s ability to lower the cortisol levels (refer point #1) may even help keep calcium in the bones.
Helps Improve Breathing & Increase in Blood Flow:
Yoga is especially known for its breathing exercises. Some exercises like anulom vilom, and pranayama or yogic breathing, focus only on breathing. In fact, in each of the yoga asanas, a lot of emphasis is laid on breathing. These breathing exercises help to relax the entire body and calm the nervous system.
The relaxation exercises also increase blood circulation, regulate the hemoglobin levels and the heart beats. This lowers the chances of heart attacks and strokes. Improved breathing can also help build endurance, optimize performance and keep your lungs and heart healthy.
When you go gymming, you build strength, but at the expense of flexibility, whereas with yoga you gain both strength and flexibility. Yoga involves a lot of moving and stretching, which varies from very light body movements to very strenuous ones. Read about the different types of yoga to know which one to include in your daily regime.
People generally add yoga to their lifestyle to improve flexibility, because that is what happens to the body with all the moving and stretching. Whether you are a yoga beginner or have an inflexible body, if you consistently practice yoga, you will slowly reach a level where you would be able to do ananas that right. When I started my practice, I could not touch my feet while standing, but now I am able to do it with absolute ease.
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Promotes Healthy Eating Habits
Yoga helps you become more observant, whether it is towards your body or your food. It inspires you to become a judicious eater, making you more aware of what you are eating – paying attention to the taste, smell and texture of food, along with your feelings when you are eating it.
Improves Balance & Posture as well as Increases Strength
Yoga has many poses that require the practitioner to stand on one foot or upside down. This requires a lot of balance, concentration, and focus. These exercises improve the balance and build the core strength of the practitioner.
In this mobile age, our posture gets adversely affected when we are constantly looking at our phone. This poor posture, not only causes fatigue, it also causes pain in various parts of the body namely back, neck and other muscle joints. Yoga plays a very important role in maintaining the right posture.
Promotes Sleep Quality
Another great advantage of yoga that it helps improve the sleep quality. Poor sleep quality has been associated with obesity, high blood pressure, and depression, among other disorders. Yoga relaxes your system and makes you feel well rested, as a result of which you are able to sleep better and longer.
Yoga has been shown to increase the secretion of melatonin, a hormone produced in the brain responsible for regulating sleep cycles. Also as discussed in point #1 & #2, as yoga relaxes your system, relieves you from stress, which helps you sleep better.
Makes you Healthier
Besides making you shift to healthier food options, yoga also helps you to lose weight. It makes you healthy overall. You start to see the changes in yourself from the first session itself, and more you commit yourself to the practice, the more you benefit.
Yoga can be helpful in reducing the frequency of migraines. #truestory. I used to suffer from a migraine. But with regular yoga practice, the intensity, frequency, and pain of my headaches have drastically reduced. It also helps to relieve back pain through its various back focused exercises. People suffer from back pain because of sitting long hours on a computer or driving a car. This results in tightness throughout the body and spinal compression. Yoga can hugely benefit them.
It also helps strengthen muscles (refer point #3) around the joints, which lessens their load. People suffering from arthritis have reported marked improvement in their pain.
Increases Self Esteem & Confidence
Yoga is instrumental in eliminating stress from your life, making you more positive – physically and mentally. Doing yoga improves the connection between your mind-body, raising your awareness towards your body. You learn to accept your body without judging it and with time you become more comfortable in your own body. This boosts your self-confidence.
Yoga makes you feel good about yourself. You experience feelings of gratitude, empathy, and forgiveness as if you are a part of something bigger. It also reduces anger by increasing the feeling of compassion and by calming the nervous system and the mind. Increased self-esteem and confidence just follow.
A Few tips and thoughts I want to leave you with
As you must have realized, yoga is a brilliant form of exercising. All is all, incorporating yoga into your lifestyle will do wonders for your health by working on your mind, body, and soul, all together.
There are just a few things I recommend:
- While performing your yoga ansanas, never force anything that your body does not allow. Do only 5% more of what you were able to do yesterday. Do not overstretch, as it can cause pain or muscle-pull which will put you off yoga.
- You need to be regular with your practice. Only disciplined consistency in practicing yoga can help you to get the desired positive results.
- Only do Guided Yoga, you need someone to tell you how much you need to hold a pose and how to regulate your breathing. So either you join a yoga institute, or if you are like me, and want to practice at home, then sign up for an online yoga membership so that you can obtain guided sessions. Grokker provides online yoga sessions, which you can join for free for the initial 15 days, continue only if you want to 🙂