What can Yoga Do For You?

“On a physical level, yoga helps improve flexibility, strength, balance, and endurance,” says Linda Schlamadinger McGrath“On an energetic level, yoga teaches you how to cope better with stress by cultivating a sense of ease in both active or passive poses. On a psychological level, yoga helps to cultivate mindfulness by shifting your awareness to the sensations, thoughts, and emotions that accompany a given pose or exercise.”

For thousands of years, yoga practitioners have been teaching the art of yoga and all of its many types, sharing the mental and physical powers that come with the practice. Research continues to uncover even more benefits of various types of yoga and other bodyworks. A regular yoga practice enhances all of the systems in the body: Skeletal, muscular, skin, circulatory, nervous, digestive, respiratory, endocrine, elimination, and reproductive!

Here are a few great things yoga can do for you;

  • Increase Flexibility
    • Stretching exercises found in yoga can improve your spinal flexibility. When it comes to the benefits of different types of yoga, Iyengar yoga can help people with rheumatoid arthritis, while other types of yoga can help with arthritis symptoms, as well.
  • Decrease Stress and Anxiety
    • Yoga moves you from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic nervous system, or from your state of flight-or-flight into rest-and-digest. As soon as you start breathing deeply, you slow down out of fight or flight and calm your nervous system. You typically have less anxiety and enter a more relaxed state.
  • Bust that Insomnia
    • Yoga reduces stress, releases tight muscles, and brings the body into balance. These benefits not only help you sleep better, but they result in reduced fatigue and increased energy throughout the day. Yoga is one of the most effective approaches for getting a good night’s sleep.

“When experiencing insomnia, practice relaxing asanas or postures, such as forward fold (uttanasana) or lying on your back with your feet up the wall,” says Tamal Dodge, director of the Tamal Yoga School. “This will help with circulation as well as calming your body and, most importantly, your mind.”

  • Boost Emotional Health
    • Yoga can benefit those living with depression, schizophrenia, other psychiatric conditions, and emotional health problems. Becoming aware of your own body and mind can help you become more in tune with the world around you — and of your relationships with others. As you learn to relax, breathe, and take care of yourself, you may become able to care more effectively, for those you love. Yoga philosophy emphasizes compassion for others as well as for yourself, which can help to reduce turmoil and subterfuge in your daily like.
  • Detoxify the Body
    • Yoga is a great way to detox your entire system, reversing blood flow and bringing more blood to the brain creates balance in the body. The right yoga routine paired with a cleansing can also help you detox your body and mind. There are poses, any time you feel like you need a cleansing, to stimulate digestion and the thyroid gland, build muscle, and get the digestive track moving.

McGrath says, “After a night of drinking, yoga may be the last thing on your mind, but it is exactly what you should do.”

  • Lower Risk of Heart Disease
    • Yoga increases capacity for exercise, improves heart health, and enhances overall quality of life. All types of yoga are great for your heart! Regular practice lowers heart rate and decreases blood pressure. Moving through <asanas> strengthens your heart muscle, which helps it pump blood with more efficiency and with greater amounts of oxygen. Improved cardiovascular health can greatly reduce your risk of heart disease.

“Yoga plays a huge role in reducing your risk of heart disease, the cardiovascular benefits of yoga also help reduce arterial plaque.” 

  • Increase Breathing Capacity
    • The <pranayama> in yoga teaches you to breathe deeply and more slowly. This improves the function of the lungs while increasing the amount of oxygen taken in with each breath. As the lungs work more efficiently, many practitioners find relief from asthma, stress, and fatigue and improved lung capacity.
  • Great for Athletes; Cross-Training
    • Athletic styles of yoga, like Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Bikram, and Power Yoga, can improve your endurance. Vigorous disciplines, like these, work the entire body and require mental and physical strength to stay in motion between the poses. Despite some types of yoga being a strenuous workout, yoga carries a low risk of injury due to its emphasis on precise alignment and technique. Because of this, athletes can greatly benefit by cross-training with yoga.
  • Reduce Chronic Pain
    • Yoga has been proved to be effective in mastering back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and headaches. A regular practice has exhibited signs of reduced discomfort felt by victims of cancer, multiple sclerosis, and autoimmune diseases. Therapeutic and restorative styles of yoga can reduce, and even eliminate, chronic pain.
  • Improve Muscle Tone and Balance
    • Yoga <asanas> strengthen and flex every muscle in the body. A balanced practice will include a mix of relaxing and strength-building poses. Regularly practicing the poses practiced in yoga will help utilize various muscles and movements that promote balance throughout the body. Physical balance increases your stability and coordination, which can help reduce the risk of injury, at any age.
  • Boost Memory
    • Yoga boosts brainpower. Not only do poses like downward dogs relax and de-stress, but they actually increase brain function. In order to keep brain cells alive and active, one must be relieved of as much stress as possible. That’s why the practice of yoga, which engages the mind, body and spirit, is the perfect solution to the problem.
  • PTSD Benefit
    • A study published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress found yoga could be a beneficial supplement treatment for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). This pilot study evaluated the effects of 12-session Kripalu-based yoga versus no yoga intervention in 38 women with symptoms of PTSD. The women randomized to the yoga group experienced greater reduction in PTSD symptoms than women in the control group. The results of this study hold promise for people with PTSD who have found little success with traditional psychotherapy.

“Practicing in a group setting, such as a yoga class, stimulates the production of oxytocin, the love and bonding hormone,” McGrath says. “Practicing mindfulness through yoga and meditation also results in higher serotonin levels (the happiness hormone), and long-term practitioners have shown more mass in the areas of the brain associated with contentment.”

 

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