Yoga has become a popular mainstream way of keeping fit because of its innate benefits. It not only targets the body, but it also has positive effects on your mental health as well. This is why it comes as no surprise that more and more people are willing to switch from traditional workout to yoga. The many physical and mental benefits of yoga are truly welcome especially in a loud, fast-paced world where it is easy to lose one’s focus.
What Yoga Is
Yoga has Hindu philosophical roots. It means to “attach, join, harness, or yoke”. This is where the spiritual aspect of yoga comes in—it means to “unite with the supreme”.
When it was introduced to the West, it eventually became a system of physical exercise with meditation and spiritualism at its core. It became a holistic way to keep the human body fit targeting the physical, mental, and spiritual domains.
At present, yoga therapy has been promoted in various parts of the world as an effective way to strengthen and balance all parts of the body.
Physical Benefits of Yoga
There are many benefits of yoga. The best thing about it is the fact that it does not only keep your body fit. It also promotes general wellness. In fact, it has been used as a therapy for anger management, anxiety disorders, and even schizophrenia. However, it still does have it still earns major fitness points. Here are some of the physical benefits of yoga.
Flexibility is the most evident benefit of yoga. This is important as people grow older because joints, ligaments, and tissues become a lot stiffer when once advances in age. Flexibility slows that process down and will keep a person feeling lithe and always ready to go.
Yoga poses might look easy to do with less effort needed as compared to lifting weights. That is a huge misconception. You see, you are using your own weight instead of dumbbells. When you lift yourself up and hold that position which is typical for more advanced yoga poses, you are activating your core, arm, and leg muscles. This strengthens your muscles in a balanced, even manner. This is the reason why more people opt to do yoga especially if their priority is to tone their body rather than bulk up.
3. Improves posture
This is directly connected with flexibility and strength. Since your joints and muscles are activated due to various yoga poses, it becomes a lot easier to hold your body up in proper posture.
4. Improves blood flow
Yoga is a great way to supply more oxygen to your cells. This is because the different poses particularly the Headstand, Shoulderstand, and Handstand help release blood from internal organs and promote a seamless flow of oxygenated flow throughout the body.
5. Boosts immunity
There is a causal link between yoga and immunity. It lies in the draining of the lymph. Once you do your poses, your body moved around as well. When that happens, drainage of lymph, or this fluid present in immune cells, may occur which will then help the lymphatic system to be more effective at detoxifying and ridding the body of infection and cancerous cells.
6. Drops blood pressure and sugar
Scientific research has shown that yoga has significantly helped in lowering systolic blood pressure and boosts good cholesterol. This is because yoga regulates your adrenal glands which then lowers cortisol. Cortisol translates into extra calories and fats.
There are just some of the many physical benefits of yoga. There are still so many positive effects that yoga can potentially do particularly for one’s physical health. It is known to be a really effective stress and tension reliever.
Mental benefits of yoga
As mentioned earlier, yoga offers so many benefits, both physical and mental. In fact, there is a growing body of research the supports the claim that yoga can enhance mental health. Apart from being a stress and tension reliever, it also sharpens focus, manages anxieties, and calms a person who has the tendency to panic. Here are some mental benefits of yoga.
Manages mental concerns
Yoga therapy has been used to counter symptoms of Attention Deficity and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). A lot of kids have been diagnosed with this that is why there is such a thing as yoga for kids and teens. Apart from ADHD, it is also used in tandem with other intervention when it comes to treating symptoms of sleep disorders, depression, anger management, and even schizophrenia.
Regulates nerve activity
Studies have shown that meditation promotes the production of the acid called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) which is a chemical in the brain that calms the nervous system down when the body is in panic mode. While this is so beneficial for people who have anxiety disorders, such calmness as enhanced by GABA will help people to make essential decisions especially in times of distress.
Improves mood and behavior
A sense of quietude keeps things at a more relaxed state. Because it can provide this sense of calm for its practitioner, one of the many mental benefits of yoga is improving one’s mood and behavior. In fact, it helps spur resilience and happiness. This could be because of its mindfulness approach to physical exercise. This allows a person to find his/her center and gives a general feeling of being balanced with things in proper order. Such even clarity may be the reason why people who do yoga report an improvement of mood and behavior.
It helps treat mental illnesses
Here is one of the best mental benefits of yoga. It can be used as one aspect of medical intervention for mental illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, depression, and schizophrenia.
By far the most evident mental health benefit of yoga is how it helps relieve stress. After a long day of just going and going, yoga helps a person re-center, so to speak, through meditation and deep breathing. This relaxation response as what researchers call it is the major catalyst for better mental health.
Where to begin
If you want to experience the physical and mental benefits of yoga first-hand, it is best to have face-to-face classes with a qualified Yoga instructor. He/She will teach you the right way to do deep breathing as well as the basic poses as your entry to such a holistic way to keep your body, mind, and spirit fit. Once you get the hang of it, you can proceed with your classes or download videos so you can do your own yoga workout at home. Studies have shown that a 10 to 12-minute yoga routine, when done daily, offers a plethora of positive effects for the practitioner.
With all the physical and mental benefits of yoga, it certainly merits the time and effort to both study and masters it. If you want a holistic approach to achieve fitness, then this is the best way to go. So prepare to roll your mats and experience the benefits only yoga can bring.