You’ve certainly heard time and again that yoga is good for you. All that stretching and breathing calms you down and makes you feel better. But other than “making you feel good,” what are the health benefits associated with practicing yoga?

More often than not, we tend to perceive yoga as a meditation practice that helps us physically – to balance, to stretch, etc. But yoga is also a practice that improves the well-being of our mental state. In fact, “yoga” is derived from the same root as the word “yoke,” referring to the process of yoking the mind and body together.  It is in combining both of these that the most benefit is derived from the practice of yoga. 

Physical Benefits

* Breathing: most of us breathe very differently than we should. As infants, we breathe in by expanding our bellies, and breathe out by retracting our bellies. As we age, we actually reverse this process, and we tend to breathe in a very shallow manner.  In fact, we very rarely truly give any thought at all to how we breathe. Pranayama, a yoga breathing exercise, actually helps to give thought to “how” we breathe and teaches us how to do it properly.

* Muscle tone and strength: many yoga poses require you to support yourself and balance on your limbs. This in turn increases your strength. Thus, more strength equals stronger, leaner muscles.

* Pain prevention: whether or not you have pain to begin with, yoga can help treat both current chronic pain and prevent future pain that can occur as we age. Back pain, for instance, is a very common as most of our everyday lives are spent sitting in a car or at a computer desk. This is turn can lead to tightness and spinal compression which yoga is excellent in helping to relieve.

* Flexibility: stretching out your wound-up and tight body will undoubtedly increase your flexibility. Areas of the body that are given an increase in range-of-motion through yoga are commonly the hips, shoulders, back and hips.

* Health matters: scientific research confirms that yoga has a great impact on the health of participants; more specifically the physical and emotional factors contributing to heart disease. These studies found that weight loss, belly fat, blood cholesterol, hypertension, and insulin resistance (among others) were all greatly improved through the practice of yoga.

Mental Benefits

* A sense of mental calmness: the practice of breathing, and the subtle and serene movements of yoga allow the mind to “think” calm. Focusing so intently on what your body is doing, and ONLY that, allows a sense of peace to flow through your body and mind.

* Stress reduction: one of the best benefits of all – yoga is an ideal stress buster. Because yoga requires you to be “in the moment,” focusing your mind and body on simply just “mind and body,” makes all of the everyday details melt away.  Yoga helps to put your troubles aside as well as put things into perspective.

* Body awareness: yoga requires you to move in ways you may not have imagined you could. As a result, you become much more aware of what you body can do, what it’s limitations are, and what can be improved upon.  And being more in touch with your body means paying attention to loving and care for it too.

* Self awareness: many individuals who practice the art of yoga find that they learn a lot about themselves; who they are and how they feel, or rather who they want to be and how they want to feel. Since it is a focused art, it is truly about focusing on “you,” which in our daily lives, more often than not, gets overlooked.

So what are you waiting for? Yoga is the perfect activity to help you become curious about who you are, focus your attention, and in turn improve your sense of well-being in ways you can’t even imagine.  Click the banner below to get started with your yoga practice today.

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