There are many benefits to yoga. If you have practiced for a while maybe you notice you sleep better or get fewer colds. Or maybe just more at ease with your body. Here are some known benefits of yoga:
Maybe one of the most obvious benefits. During your first class, you probably won’t be able to touch your toes, never mind do a backbend. But if you stick with it, you’ll notice a gradual loosening, and eventually, poses that seem impossible will become possible. You’ll also notice that aches and pains start to disappear.
Strong muscles do more than look good. Yoga also strengthens the muscles we have on the inside, protecting us from conditions like arthritis and back pain. When you build strength through yoga, you balance it with flexibility. Yoga makes us become more balanced towards the middle. If you are very flexible you build strength, if you are strong, you will build flexibility. All in a rounded way that works all the muscle groups.
The spine helps to hold up the whole body. Often we neglect it and we only realise we have one when we suffer from pain. Give your spine some love now and bend it now so we don’t break later. The spine is also linked to our nerve system. If you’ve got a well-balanced asana practice with plenty of backbends, forward bends, and twists, you’ll help keep your disks supple.
Yoga gets your blood flowing, especially in your hands and feet. Yoga also gets more oxygen to your cells, which function better as a result. Twisting poses are thought to wring out venous blood from internal organs and allow oxygenated blood to flow in once the twist is released. Inverted poses, such as Headstand, Handstand, and Shoulderstand, encourage venous blood from the legs and pelvis to flow back to the heart, where it can be pumped to the lungs to be freshly oxygenated. This can help if you have swelling in your legs, suffer from jetlag or heart or kidney problems.
With yoga there is no need to starve ourselves and go on a complicated diet. By practicing yoga you are simply drawn to more healthy food, making us eat better and more mindfully. A regular practice gets you moving and burns calories, and the spiritual and emotional dimensions of your practice may encourage you to address any eating and weight problems on a deeper level. Yoga may also inspire you to become a more conscious eater.
An important component of yoga is focusing on the present. Studies have found that regular yoga practice improves coordination, reaction time, memory, and even IQ scores.
Stimulation is good, but too much of it is bad for the nervous system. Yoga can provide relief from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Restorative asana, yoga nidra (a form of guided relaxation), Savasana, Pranayama, and meditation encourage Pratyahara, a turning inward of the senses, which provides downtime for the nervous system. Another by-product of a regular yoga practice, studies suggest, is better sleep.
Feeling sad? Sit in Lotus. One study found that a consistent yoga practice improved depression and led to a significant increase in serotonin levels and a decrease in the levels of monoamine oxidase and cortisol. Studies showed that yoga has been correlated with greater levels of happiness and better immune function.
Yoga can help you make changes in your life. In fact, that might be its greatest strength. Tapas, the Sanskrit word for “heat,” is the fire, the discipline that fuels yoga practice and that regular practice builds. The tapas you develop can be extended to the rest of your life to overcome inertia and change dysfunctional habits. You may find that without making a particular effort to change things, you start to eat better, exercise more, or finally quit smoking after years of failed attempts.