While there are, literally, hundreds of benefits to be enjoyed from practicing yoga, some of the reasons are genuinely significant. Because yoga involves using nearly every muscle in the body, a new practice will quickly reveal areas needing improvement! Because the beneficial aspects of yoga are so numerous, focusing on the potential physiological and psychological benefits should make evident the unmistakable proof of yoga’s benefit to personal health and wellness. In this article, I will mainly focus on physiological benefits.
Many students have said yoga makes them feel younger! The most obvious reason for that effect is easily explained in pointing out the physical requirements. Motion, breathing, and stretching are an integral part of nearly every practice. The take away is that yoga leaves a person feeling stronger, more agile, and flexible. Feeling ‘younger’ is an understandable description of those results.
Many persons approach yoga as a potential solution to dealing with weight issues. Because exercise increases our metabolism rate, it is a fair presumption that the practice can assist. The fact is that regular yoga normalizes body weight. An intense, heavy workout with weights may be the key to burning a greater amount of calories, but that’s not the way yoga achieves results! Yoga returns a balance to hormones affected by excessive cortisol. By reducing cortisol, we are less likely to overeat or suppress negative emotions. We also train our brains to feel more easily satiated, due to a reduction in our fight-or-flight response. Stress, a known cause of obesity, diabetes, and other maladies, is greatly reduced through yoga.
Innumerable studies have proven the efficacy of yoga in pain reduction. Whether migraine headaches, arthritis, or fibromyalgia, yoga is a proven method to effectively reduce persistent pain. Far too many adults suffer from upper and/or lower back pain. Yoga has been shown to drastically reduce and, in many cases, eliminate back pain!
To be able to eliminate such a debilitating, chronic condition can be a life-changing experience!
Catch your breath! This is a big one! Yoga greatly increases respiratory health. To put that more simply, doing yoga will really improve your stamina! For persons dealing with CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) or COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder), this can be a blessing of unimaginable proportions! How this is even possible is a good question and ‘pranayama’, the cultivation of life force or chi through breathing – is the answer! As the key to a successful yoga flow is to maintain breathing, an active and regular practice will definitely increase your lung size and capacity.
As wonderful as it all sounds, that’s a lot to think about and consider. Regular yoga practice is a discipline, so approaching it with respect for the demands it will place upon you would be wise! We’ll talk about more amazing health benefits of yoga in Part II. ~