Are your joints getting stiffer? Is your back or neck pain troubling you? Are you struggling with an eating disorder or drug addiction? Do you face problems with concentration and decreased energy level? Are you battling anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, cardiovascular disease or cancer? Have you considered yoga?
It may seem too easy to think just yoga can improve your quality of life, but the fact is; yoga has many benefits on the body and mind. These will not only leave you amazed, but you might end up enrolling in your first class. Who knows, maybe you become a full on Yogi.
So, what can yoga do for you?
It Makes you flexible
We all know that yoga = flexibility AND it is the first things you will notice. Starting out, yoga is quite uncomfortable. You may experience muscle cramps and strains. BUT – those aches and pains start to disappear. YES, our body gets used to it, you become flexible and suddenly what you couldn’t do a few sessions ago becomes easy. Is flexibility a good thing? Mixed reviews. It doesn’t improve your endurance or strength. BUT, as the joints and connecting tissues start loosening, your range of motion improves, your posture improves, you have a lower risk of injury doing daily activities like reaching down to tie your shoe, or reaching overhead for something, looking over your shoulder etc. As you get more flexible, you’ll be able to complete more complex poses and your self-confidence will sky rocket! And these are all good things.
Improves your blood flow
Another direct effect of yoga is improved circulation. The twisting, inverting motions, relaxation techniques and breathing exercises all increase blood flow and oxygen delivery to your entire body. It not only increases the flow of oxygen to your blood, fueling your muscles and brain with energy, the higher oxygen also improves your immunity and makes your blood thinner. This may seem like a small thing, but it is not; it lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke; these are often times caused by blood clots. Overall, this benefits all the other types of exercises you will want to practice by helping your body maximize oxygen uptake and use.
Lowers your stress level
Stress is another big talk! So I’ll try not to get too detailed here. Cortisol is a stress hormone. This hormone is good to have when you need to combat a crises; It is 1 of 3 stress hormones that induce the “fight or flight response” of your body AKA the sympathetic nervous system. The different aspects of yoga help your body to shift from a fight-or-flight, to a more relaxed state AKA parasympathetic nervous system. To be exact, yoga is known to reduce cortisol levels. This not only lowers your stress levels but also prepares your body to deal with stress more efficiently. Why would this be important? No doubt cortisol is important.
BUT Excessive cortisol in the blood can cause depression, osteoporosis (bone loss), insulin resistance (diabetes), and high blood pressure. By regulating the amount of cortisol, yoga boosts your immune system, decreases stress and also helps you cope with stress
Improves your Sleep
Cortisol is not just a one-job hormone. It also plays a role in your sleep cycle. Cortisol is low when you are falling asleep, and goes up towards the end. This means that a rise in cortisol decides when sleep ends. So if your cortisol level is always high because of stress, falling asleep will NOT be easy. From what I said before, yoga helps lower cortisol…so you can get the ZZZ’s you need!
Makes you happier
Yes, one of the long-term benefits of yoga is an increase in happiness. Practicing yoga for a long time increases the level of serotonin in the body which makes you feel happier. Lowering serotonin is a reason why it also helps with depression. Yoga also decreases inflammation in the body. Why is that a good thing? Patients with Depression have been found to have higher levels of Inflammation. So it is thought that inflammation has a role in depressive symptoms. Meditation, which is a part of yoga helps in you to be in the moment and connect to your higher self. This also helps you to lead a peaceful and contented life.
Just look at YOGI bear! 😉 Such a happy bear!
Improves your Sex Life
That’s right! Yoga enhances your sex life!
Especially if you are a female over the age of 45 and are having issues with sex. This includes arousal, lubrication, orgasm and pain. Being peri-menopausal and even post-menopausal doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy everything life has to offer, and this includes sex.
So, is it only good for women? NO! It’s also helpful to men. Men who are under a lot of stress commonly have trouble in the bedroom. Stress has been shown to cause erectile dysfunction and decreased libido. Knowing that yoga decreases stress… what do you think yoga will do for these men? ERECTION! Well… not right then during yoga! But definitely when in the right moment.
CONCLUSION: It Promotes a Healthier Lifestyle
Yoga helps you cope with both physical and emotional stress in better ways. It can protect you from injury during daily activities, and prevents falls especially in the elderly. It improves concentration and efficiency. It makes you happier, more confident and may even improve your sex life.
For people who struggle with drug addiction yoga has been shown to help with motivation to stay sober. People with eating disorders, also benefit from the added confidence and improved self-image. All of these are great benefits of yoga, and lets not forget it helps you maintain your physique all while helping the rest of your body.
For those of you who have never tried it, those of you that think your cannot do it, those of who think you are “too old”, “too weak, “too fragil” to do it; don’t be discouraged. The great thing about yoga is that it is tailored to you. You do what you can, for as long as you can and there is no judgment. It is not a competition, it is not meant to make you feel bad if you can’t do something or hold a pose for the expected time. It is a type of exercise of the body and mind that makes YOU its main focus. Done correctly, with proper instruction, the benefits are endless.
Keep in mind, that although yoga has been shown to improve symptoms of anxiety, a few studies have shown that the symptoms can get worse. Regardless of the things I have said, always always, always, consult with your own doctor if you have any diseases or conditions and ask them if this is a good exercise plan for you. Look for medically trained yoga instructors and tell them about your conditions. They will know how to adjust the routine for you so you can truly benefit and prevent injury.
I usually do it at the end of my day because I have found it helps me sleep. I also have some lower back and neck pain, and yoga helps relieve the pain. I know a lot of people who do yoga in the morning because it fills them with the energy and relaxation they need to get through the day. No matter what others do, FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU! There are no rules when it comes to yoga. Just pick out your matt, take water for hydration, a towel to wipe your sweat and…