Without a doubt, I can almost guarantee that anyone who has ever read an article regarding health and well-being has happened to come across at least one article regarding the health benefits that can be brought on by yoga– yogi or not.
Regardless of the number of articles out there, this is a topic that never gets old.
And believe it or not, it’s a field of study still in its infancy.
Scientists and researchers are still discovering new, added benefits that come along with a consistent practice of yoga.
Since spring has sprung, what’s better than adding the practice of yoga into your plan for spring renewal?
If you’re considering adding a consistent yoga practice to your April intentions list, keep reading for all the reasons why yoga should be #1!
1. Develop Awareness and Peace of Mind
Yoga requires one to pay close attention to the breath, something we often forget to do in our busy, everyday lives. How you breathe throughout your yoga practice helps you maintain strength and flexibility in a pose. Slower breathing allows for more oxygen to be let into the brain, keeping you more grounded and focused.
Paying attention to your breath without physically trying to change it helps you develop a more keen sense of awareness. Paying attention to your breath not only increases your lung capacity, it also increases your metabolism and helps digestion. Every inhale is an opportunity to extend, stretch, and strengthen in a pose, and every exhale is a chance to further deepen the pose.
2. Alter Your Body and Mind
While flexibility isn’t required to practice yoga, a consistent practice increases not only your physical flexibility but also your mental flexibility. Allowing your body to develop physical flexibility also opens the door for a much more flexible, open mind.
People who have a more flexible mind tend to be more confident, relaxed, resilient and able to adapt to challenging situations. Yoga works through samskaras, or the subtle impressions made on our brains through the habits we build and continue to develop. By discovering new ways to move in yoga, we’re also finding new ways to think and process information.
3. Improve Posture and Reduce Pain
So many of us spend the majority of our day hunched over a phone or computer. Whether we notice it or not, the more time spent slouched, the more curved our spine becomes.
The slow, controlled movements that many yoga classes include help to promote proper spine alignment, and work to permanently straighten and strengthen your back. Improved posture aids in better breathing and preventing injury, and also helps reduce not only back pain but pain altogether by decreasing lactic acid in muscles and decreasing joint pain.
4. Enhance and Strengthen Your Muscles
Yoga uses body weight to build endurance and strengthen muscles. Practicing yoga has the ability to strengthen and tone each and every one of your muscles, without adding size. The dynamic nature of the practice of yoga helps your muscles develop in a very balanced way, and ensures that no one muscle group will go neglected.
Each yoga posture targets a variety of muscles to help you develop strength and endurance, and even enhance fat loss. While the practice of yoga invites you to explore new sensations in your body, it also offers a different type of challenge by pushing you to the edge.
5. Have Better Sex
You read correctly– practicing yoga increases your libido! Along with yoga increasing physical flexibility and creating a union of breath between you and your partner, a variety of yoga postures also work to strengthen your pelvic floor.
Practicing yoga also increases your self-confidence and body image, which both increase libido, as well as helping to clear your mind, better process and communicate emotions, and learn more about your body on an intimate level. Because of this, yoga can actually improve your sex life and strengthen your orgasms!
6. Reduce Depression, Anxiety, Stress, and Insomnia
Developing a stronger connection between the mind and the body creates harmony in almost every aspect of our life. According to a Harvard research study, yoga can reduce the impact of exaggerated stress responses by reducing the heart rate, lowering the blood pressure, and easing respiration– in turn, reducing anxiety, depression, and stress, and also allow a practitioner to better cope with insomnia.
The overall practice of yoga relaxes the body and the mind and reduces tension all throughout. Rather than living unconsciously, being mindful and understanding how the mind and body works makes managing stress and releasing emotions much easier. Learning to focus the mind on a single thing, such as the breath, seems impossible at times, but with practice, it becomes much easier– and is very, very beneficial.
7. Enhance Sense of Well-Being
By stimulating certain glands, yoga causes your brain to release mood-altering chemicals. Along with all of the above benefits (and the others that aren’t listed here), yoga also provides the practitioner with an enhanced sense of well-being. Practicing yoga teaches you to be more mindful– on and off the mat.
As stated in an article published by Harvard Health Publishing, “The ability of yoga to help dial back both physical and mental problems is reason enough to try it. But there’s more. Even at this early stage of research, a regular yoga practice appears to correlate with increased wellbeing, including better sleep, better body awareness, weight loss, and greater happiness.”
Something we must not forget, whether we are just beginning to practice yoga or we have been practicing for years is that the practice of yoga is meant to be your practice. Your teacher is simply your guide. Since there is no shortage of variety when it comes to yoga, being that there are more than 100 different styles of yoga, there’s something out there for everyone.
Yoga is all about physical and mental exploration. So what are you waiting for? Get on the mat and get to flowing!