What are the Benefits of Yoga?

At this point, you definitely know what yoga is and you’ve probably even tried it once or twice. It is a wildly popular form of exercise that has been around for thousands of years.  

Yoga in some form is believed to have been practiced in India over five thousand years ago. The practice traditionally combines the body and mind through breathing, movement, mindfulness, and meditation.  

To many, yoga is a spiritual form of connection to their body. For others, it’s simply a way to feel good and get some exercise. Whatever your reasons for practicing yoga are, you’re sure to see some benefits.  

There’s a variety of different ways to practice yoga, but the benefits of all remain similar. Scientific and anecdotal evidence points to yoga as one of the best ways to manage stress, reduce chronic pain, improve flexibility, and many more benefits.

Stress and anxiety management – Yoga is often thought of as a fantastic way to relieve stress by bringing relaxation to the forefront of the mind. Ask any consistent practitioner and they’ll tell how yoga makes them feel at peace. 

There is some basis for this in science. Several studies have connected the practice of yoga to the decrease of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is the primary hormone that causes you to feel stress.  

A lot of people also use yoga as a way to manage their feelings of anxiety. Lots of studies have been done on exercise in general as a way to manage anxiety. Yoga, when practiced mindfully, could be particularly effective. 

The poses in yoga challenge ease the body, while mindfulness, breathing, and meditation can reel in and calm the mind.

Recovery – Your body needs to recover. If you’ve read any of our Thursday Recovery blogs, you’ve heard about how important this is. Recovery helps you grow, get better, and heal your body. However, it doesn’t mean you have to just sit around. You can also practice ‘active recovery’ where you perform some kind of light, low impact exercise.  

Yoga can be a great form of active recovery. It’s low impact, it’s mentally delightful, and it feels good physically.  

There’s evidence that it helps to reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a natural part of muscle growth, but it can be uncomfortable. Long term chronic inflammation can also increase your risk of diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. 

Yoga also promotes quality sleep. Some studies have shown that yoga releases melatonin, which is a hormone that helps regulate sleep and wakefulness. As we said earlier, yoga reduces stress and anxiety which are both common causes of sleep problems. 

Other health benefits – On top of the other benefits, yoga is really good exercise. Yoga can be modified in many different ways for many different reasons. You can do yoga for cardio, weight loss, or anything else you think it could do for you.   

Exercise can reduce blood pressure. High blood pressure is one major cause of heart problems. By adding some light exercise, such as yoga, into your recovery days will help you live a happier, healthier lifestyle.  

You could also probably guess that yoga improves your flexibility and balance just based on seeing some of the crazy poses that regular yoga practitioners do. A lot of research shows that yoga can significantly improve your performance in other areas by making you more flexible and increasing your balance. Many professional athletes, like Lebron James and Ray Lewis, have talked about yoga as a way to make their performance better.

Whatever your reasons for practicing yoga are, you’re sure to find tons of benefits if you practice it consistently and mindfully!  

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