If you’re an avid practitioner of yoga, you already know many yoga benefits and that it’s “good for you.” Along with its positive emotional and mental effects, yoga is also an amazing tool for staying physically healthy. It cultivates strength, flexibility, balance and stamina for the entire body.
For people who are conscious about health and self-healing, some of the yoga benefits we’ll touch on will be familiar, but some of them may come as a surprise.
Read on to learn just how many yoga benefits you can have in your life!
1. Better Flexibility
I’ve heard many people who’ve never done yoga say that it’s basically just stretching. While it is so much more, it’s no secret that finding your edge and breathing length into your muscles definitely makes you more flexible and increases range of motion throughout your body.
2. Better Balance
Balance here can be broken into two types:
1. Balance in space, i.e. the type you improve by performing standing, one-legged, and arm balances.
2. Balance between the left and right sides of the body, and among all muscle groups as a whole so the body can function more efficiently and in harmony.
3. Boosts Energy
Opening the heart through backbends is a great way to invigorate your mind and body if you’re feeling lethargic. Prana exercises such as Breath of Fire and Kapalabhati move life force throughout your body to awaken the mind and senses.
4. Weight Reduction
We all know that regular exercise can help us keep our “girlish figure,” so of course a vigorous session of power flow will contribute to this goal. However, many people who do yoga are also mindful of how they treat their bodies: they tend to get better sleep, drink more water, and eat a healthier diet- all things that contribute to maintaining a healthy weight.
5. Builds Muscle Strength and Tone
If you’ve ever held side plank for a 10 count or felt your muscles shake when attempting side crow, you know this undeniable fact: yoga benefits to make your muscles stronger! Body weight exercises are an easy, gentle way to build brawn.
6. Protects from Injury
Stronger muscles and bones, better range of motion, and more flexibility are all things you can get out of a regular yoga practice. These 3 things all also help you be less likely to get injured when practicing yoga or participating in other sports as well.
7. Improves Athletic Performance
Benefits 1-6 above all contribute to a bigger picture: improved performance in other sports. Professional athletes worldwide are using yoga more and more to complement their regular workouts and make them well-rounded competitors.
8. Improves Respiration
Harnessing the power of your breath and being conscious of the way prana moves through your body is not only beneficial for meditative purposes, but it also increases lung capacity and can relieve sinus-related ailments. Pranayama is not just breathing- it’s breathing with a higher purpose!
9. Balances Metabolism
No matter what type of exercise you prefer, getting your body moving increases your metabolic rate. It’s that simple! Whether you like to walk, run, swim, or roll out your mat, every little bit of physical activity you do leads to calories burned, improved digestion and increased lean muscle mass.
10. Lowers Blood Sugar
This one is important for people with diabetes, people who suffer from chronic stress, and even just people who want to lose weight. Yoga and meditation lower cortisol and adrenalin levels, improving your body’s sensitivity to insulin. Balanced blood sugar means healthy weight, emotional health and, most importantly, longevity.
11. Improves Gut Health
Did you know that your twists and balances on the mat can aid digestion and banish toxins? Yep, they’re not just for flexibility! And a consistent yoga practice can do other things like ease stress and help you sleep better, which are huge contributing factors to healthy gut bacteria. Diverse tummy flora means more energy, fewer digestive ailments and better overall health.
12. Promotes Spinal Health
A healthy spine is one that maintains range of motion and gets an ample flow of blood and other fluids. The discs in your spine need both of these in order to remain functional and normal. While yoga benefits range of motion throughout the body as well as circulation, it also works to balance the muscles of both sides of the body- most importantly in the core and back. A strong, evenly toned torso is key for spinal support, and can help prevent injury and promote longevity of your spine, the most important bone structure in your body!
13. Improves Sleep Patterns
While regular exercise has been proven to help you sleep better, practices like yoga nidra and meditation could be the secret to the best sleep of your life. Studies have shown that a regular yoga practice can lower stress and help you get snoozing and keep the zzz’s flowing all night.
14. Assists Addiction Recovery
It’s becoming more and more clear among the drug and alcohol treatment community that mindfulness practices such as yoga and meditation can be an important tool in addiction recovery. MBRP (Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention) techniques change the way we respond to stress and triggers for feelings that lead to relapse. These mindfulness techniques are being used to empower those struggling with addiction to observe their emotions and feelings and choose healthy reactions to them. Yoga truly has the power to change lives!
Everything we’ve talked about here contributes to one cumulative benefit: yoga and meditation can improve your longevity. Through strengthening muscles, joints and bones, promoting more mindful living habits, improving sleep and more, yoga can be the most important thing you do for a happier, longer life!