Whether you practice yoga on the weekends or if you’re a fully devoted yogi seven days of the week, there is no denying that doing yoga offers many benefits beyond what can be seen physically, like enhanced focus, a better night’s rest and a boatload of energy.
Although we are still learning and measuring yoga’s benefits, Western science is uncovering clues about this ancient practice and its effects on longevity and lifespan that prove yoga proposes a variety of benefits to whoever practices it.
The purpose of yoga is to build strength, awareness and harmony in both the mind and body. Yoga does more than burn calories and tone muscles — it’s a total mind-body workout that combines strengthening and stretching poses with deep breathing and meditation or relaxation.
In honor of National Yoga Awareness Month, we’re going to share with you a couple of benefits that you may not know happens when you engage in this practice that has been around for over 5,000 years.
How Yoga Can Benefit Your Overall Health
There are hundreds of yoga poses or asanas that all have their own set of benefits. If practiced on a consistent basis, these poses can help improve your overall health in a variety of ways.
Increases and supports bone health: Since most yoga poses require you to hold your own weight, yoga strengthens bones and helps ward off osteoporosis. Specifically, yoga strengthens arm bones that are particularly vulnerable to osteoporotic fractures.
Boosts immune system: Yoga movements help drain lymph nodes, which allows the immune system to fight off infections, destroy diseased cells and get rid of toxic waste in the body.
Raises your heart rate: Many classes like power yoga, for example, can boost heart rate the same way aerobic exercises do. Studies found that yoga can lower resting heart rate, increase endurance and improve maximum uptake of oxygen during exercise.
Improves your balance: Practicing yoga on a consistent basis increases the ability to feel what your body is doing and improves balance. Better balance could mean fewer falls, especially for the elderly.
Maintains your adrenal glands: Yoga lowers the cortisol levels. When cortisol levels are too high, they compromise the immune system and can lead to permanent changes in the brain. Excessive cortisol has also been linked with major depression, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and insulin resistance.
Aids digestion: Yoga promotes healthy digestion by moving the body in ways that enable faster and efficient transport of food and waste products through the bowels. Healthy digestion helps lower the risk of colon cancer and diseases of the digestive tract.
Lowers blood sugar: Yoga lowers blood sugar and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and boosts HDL (“good”) cholesterol. In people with diabetes, yoga has been found to lower blood sugar by lowering cortisol and adrenaline levels, encouraging weight loss and improving sensitivity to the effects of insulin.
Calms your nerves and improves sleep: Yoga and meditation calms the senses and removes the stimuli that aggravate them, resulting in much-needed downtime for the nervous system and better sleep — meaning you’ll be less tired, stressed and less likely to have accidents.
These are just a few of the benefits that practicing yoga can do for your health, which barely cracks the surface of what yoga can really do for your body. Now that you understand some of yoga’s many benefits, you’ll have even more motivation to step onto your yoga mat and begin your journey into discovering a healthier you. Learn more about the benefits of yoga and the different yoga poses here.