Do you find yourself in any of these states? Stressed. Frustrated. You don’t get enough sleep. You don’t feel confident in your body. Inflexible. Your joints hurt.
Yoga can be a great tool to heal all of these symptoms and even more.
Personally, I noticed a huge improvement in how my body feels, my relationship with myself and mental state, since doing yoga on a regular basis. Therefore I want to share how beneficial yoga really is and 8 reasons to start doing yoga NOW.
What is Yoga anyway?
In our western society yoga is known mostly for light workouts, stretches, and crazy poses. However, there is so much more to yoga than we think there is.
Yoga is actually an ancient philosophy, which was created with the intention of connecting with your soul and reaching a higher state of being. That’s why, the ancient yogis, at first only meditated.
Then, the practice of breathing, called pranayama, came into play.
The physical practice of yoga is the newest and it was created with the purpose of keeping your body strong so that you don’t get uncomfortable during your meditation.
Ever since, a huge variety of yoga poses, breathing techniques, and meditation practices have been and are still being created, in order to find a union between our bodies, mind, and soul.
So, you are probably wondering, why the heck I am telling you all of this?
Because, I want you to know that yoga not only has tons of health benefits for our bodies, but it has also such a positive and healthy impact on our mind and overall life.
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1. Improves flexibility
This is the most obvious health benefit and a common reason why people start doing yoga – flexibility. Indeed, yoga will improve your flexibility, for sure. (1)
When I first started yoga 4 years ago, I was the most inflexible person, I am not even kidding. Slowly, but steady I was becoming more and more flexible. Now, when I look back, I cannot help but notice how MUCH more flexible I am, than before my yoga journey. It has taken me 2-3 years of practice to master yoga poses, like the front split, king pigeon, etc.
“I bend, so I don’t break”
But, it’s not the yoga poses, which I am so happy about. My everyday life, as well as my performance in the gym and at workouts, has increased so much. Being flexible allows you to be active and move however you want, without being afraid of injuries.
2. Lowers stress levels
Yoga encourages you to relax, slow down and be present in the moment.
This is the number one reason why I am so madly in love with yoga. Whenever I am feeling stressed out, overwhelmed or anxious and I do yoga, I feel 100% better.
I step on my yoga mat and all of my worries are blown away.
There is only me, my movements and my breath.
All of my focus is on my yoga pose. I breathe deeply into my belly and just like that, I feel calm.
And if you are looking for a scientific explanation, here it is: A study of UCLA has shown that yoga reduces the stress hormone and lessens proteins, which play a vital role in inflammation and stress. (4)
3. Reduces chronic back and neck pain
After a few months of regular yoga practice, you will start to notice that your back and neck pain is almost gone. Due to the fact that most yoga poses are strengthening the core and simultaneously relaxing the back and neck muscles, yoga is highly effective in reducing chronic back and neck pain. (3)
At the same time, a lot of yoga poses, mostly backbends, are strengthening the back muscles in a healthy, but also an efficient way.
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4. Improves sense of balance
Tree pose, standing split pose, eagle pose, handstands, just to name a few yoga poses where your balance is vital. Actually, most yoga poses will improve your balance and you will start to notice it in just a few weeks of regular practice.
A study of the Temple University has also shown that simple yoga poses can prevent falls in women over 65 years. (2)
5. Improves brain function
A study of the University of Illinois has shown that something as simple as a 20-minute Hatha-yoga session can improve the brain function. Immediately after a 20-minute yoga class, the participants were performing better in cognitive tasks, memory and reaction tasks. They were also able to process information more quickly than the other group of participants, who was taking an aerobics class for 20 minutes. (5)
6. Lowers blood pressure
Researchers found that people with mild to moderate hypertension might benefit from practicing yoga because it could lower their blood pressure level. (6)
Best suitable for lowering blood pressure is pranayama (breathing) practices.
7. Helps you sleep better
Too many people nowadays suffer from a kind of sleep dysfunction. All the hurry, the busy lifestyle, being on online 24/7 and having pressure is leading to poor sleeping patterns.
Fortunately, yoga can help. It is proven that meditation, pranayama and soft and gentle yoga poses help us to relax and moreover lead to a better sleep. (7) Yoga Nidra, a form of guided relaxation, in particular, provides downtime for the nervous system.
8. Prevents joint breakdowns
Most yoga poses take the joint through their full range of motion, which in everyday life don’t happen.
Moreover, yoga can help prevent degenerative arthritis by “squeezing and soaking” areas of the cartilage (which is like a cushion in our joints) that normally aren’t being used. Yoga poses also increase muscle and bone strength, which help to protect the joints.
Lastly, yoga circulates synovial fluid (the fluid in our joints) in the movable joints.
Of course, there are plenty of other health benefits of yoga, like an improved immune system, a healthy heart, the stimulation of organs, a healthy weight, stronger muscles and bones, improved lung capacity, anxiety relief, more self-love, a better and healthier lifestyle, etc.
I wanted to mention my top 8 reasons to start doing yoga because otherwise, this blog post would be way too long. But, I can write another blog post on this topic, where I go into detail about many other benefits of yoga.
Meanwhile, you can check out the following blog posts:
- 12 Yoga poses for beginners – if you really want to start doing yoga
- Sun salutation – A Yoga flow for beginners
- Yoga for back pain
Thank you for reading! Have an energized day,
Photos: Nicolas Zangerle
Bikini – 437 Swimwear
Yoga outfit – Alo Yoga