The popularity of yoga has been steadily rising over the last couple of decades. Its popularity is due in part to its ancient roots and multitude of benefits. The simple concepts of yoga, when practiced at a deep level, are capable of clearing your mind of all thoughts that contaminate your outlook on life. Other than leading you toward a happier, more fulfilling life, yoga has a multitude of other physical benefits. Here are the top ten health benefits of practicing yoga:
In a recent study at Harvard, researchers found eight weeks of daily yoga significantly improved sleep quality for people who suffered from various forms of insomnia. In another study, researchers found practicing yoga had helped cancer survivors sleep better and have more energy throughout the day. Researchers attribute these findings to yoga’s ability to help people better deal with their stress and anxiety. The various breathing techniques, mentioned later in this list, helped people relax and achieve mental clarity.
One of the most important lessons of yoga is happiness comes from within. After you start to consistently practice yoga for some time, this is one of the most beautiful things you discover. It teaches us that happiness has nothing to do with material possessions, being the best at everything, having model looks, but rather it is a state of mind and it is attainable through body and mind awareness.
Fight Cravings for Food
A study conducted by the University of Washington found regular yoga practice is correlated with reduced rates of binge eating and an awareness of physical and emotional sensations experienced while eating. It is believed by taking the time to control your breathing it strengthens the mind-body connection. This enhanced awareness can help you slow down and make make better decisions when it comes to eating and help you maintain self control when cravings strike.
One of the biggest and most rewarding health benefits of practicing yoga is stress relief and management. By combining breathing techniques and meditation tactics, yoga helps individuals silence the constant thoughts and worries of the human brain. With stress being such a large component in the development of so many different diseases, it is easy to see why reducing it is important.
The techniques practiced in yoga has been shown to develop areas of the brain that aren’t normally used. As the brain develops so does your intelligence and clarity of your thoughts. Yoga has also been shown to improve memory, learning, and cognitive faculties. By bridging the gap between the brain and the body, yoga improves your coordination and depth perception.
It has been shown that practicing yoga can increase HDL cholesterol which is good for the heart while simultaneously decreasing the bad VLDL and LDL cholesterols. It also decreases blood pressure which reduces the risk of strokes and heart attacks. Practicing yoga has also been shown to decrease triglyceride levels in the blood stream which is correlated with a number of different diseases.
Deep breathing techniques are a cornerstone of yoga and provide a variety of benefits to your body and mind. Some of the benefits include enhanced lung capacity, stamina, endurance, and ability to relax. By focusing on your breathing you reduce your blood pressure,and reduce anxiety. Relaxed breathing also helps you dispel the feelings of the epinephrine induced flight or fight response humans experience when stressed.
By increasing your flexibility and strength, two other benefits of yoga, you will naturally improve your posture. Many Yoga positions aim at improving core strength including the abdominal muscles which help support your body when sitting or standing. Additionally, the clarity of mind that yoga aims to create, helps you be aware of times when you are slouching giving you the ability to correct your behavior. Having a good posture helps prevent a variety of back problems and can also improve your self confidence and outlook on life.
Practicing yoga can is a tremendous way of increasing your strength and resiliency. Many of the techniques in yoga strengthen the core, increases muscle flexibility, and increase muscle stamina and endurance. This doesn’t just include physical strength. People who practice yoga have been shown to have stronger immune systems and are less prone to getting sick.
Yoga is perhaps one of the best possible ways to increase and improve flexibility. Flexibility is essential for avoiding various forms of injuries and increases the health and longevity of joints, tendons, and muscles in the body.
Featured Image: Flickr by Jean Henrique Wichinoski