Yoga is so much more than just stretching. Engaging in controlled gentle breathing and bringing mindful attention to your movement, you’ll experience an array of benefits with regular practice.
Yoga combines flexibility, strength and breathing techniques to improve both your physical health and your mental wellbeing in a number of ways.
Originating from India around 5,000 years ago, it quickly expanded across the globe.
In its original and adapted forms, yoga is now used by all kinds of athletes as a way of supercharging their routines with its performance-enhancing benefits and contribution to quickening recovery times.
Mind and Body - 6 Core Benefits of yoga
When you make that decision to sign up to a yoga class, or even start learning from the comfort of your own home, prepare to feel the benefits almost immediately.
Here are 6 in particular that we’ve found to be most noteworthy:
1. Improved athletic performance
After a period of consistent yoga practice, you’ll begin to notice the benefits.
It increases your range of motion and flexibility while relieving muscle tension and aiding recovery from other strenuous exercises.
The increased strength and agility that accompanies yoga practise translates into most other sports and exercise hobbies that you might like to improve your performance in.
2. Increased flexibility
Not all sports result in improved flexibility themselves, but at the same time, it’s helpful to be flexible while competing in or training for them.
Practising yoga takes your body through a wide spectrum of motion, and by maintaining a pose in what will be an uncomfortable position to begin with, you’re bringing new stretches to your muscles which other traditional impact sports and activities do not.
This is where combining yoga with your usual fitness routine is very effective, as they go hand in hand and complement each other well.
3. Boost muscular strength and toning
There are certain poses in yoga that are designed solely to increase strength.
To be successful in the art of yoga, solid core strength is fundamental.
Many studies have been conducted on this subject and are conclusive of increased strength and endurance in participants.
The aforementioned benefits of yoga, flexibility and endurance, also indirectly boost strength by improving performance in alternate forms of exercise.
For example, the endurance gained from yoga will help a bodybuilder improve their stamina, which can then increase performance at the gym and therefore strength as a knock-on.
4. Improved sleep
Melatonin is the hormone the body naturally creates when it’s dark. It sends signals to the brain that it’s time to sleep.
Yoga has shown to increase secretion levels of this hormone, which is fantastic news if you’ve found yourself struggling to sleep or maintain a sleep cycle that fits your routine.
Increased exercise as part of this routine will also help you sleep more. This is because expenditure of energy requires the body to rest.
5. Reduced stress and anxiety
Cortisol is an important hormone that can quickly become a nuisance.
It is released by the adrenal glands in the brain to help deal with various types of stress.
However, if you’re dealing with a lot of stressful situations or one long period of unresolved stress, cortisol levels will stay high for too long. This can have negative effects.
Consistently high levels of cortisol can result in physical complications from weight gain to diabetes, as well as affecting mood.
Luckily, yoga has been shown to reduce levels of cortisol, boost serotonin, and as a result reduce stress – easing symptoms of depression.
Anxiety is also relieved by the sense of wakefulness that accompanies yoga practise, as well as being ‘in the moment’ and achieving an alleviated state of mental clarity.
6. Reduced inflammation
Your body really will thank you for sinking into the peacefulness of yoga.
Whether you’re suffering an injury or infection, inflammation is a process your immune system uses to increase blood flow to that area, where antibodies and proteins are released to begin the healing process.
However, if you experience prolonged, chronic inflammation, it can have a negative impact on your body. The likelihood of getting Diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer is increased.
Studies have suggested that yoga can slow down the effects of stress on both the body and mind, reducing the body’s need to resort to the inflammatory process.
If you do struggle with chronic inflammation, you may want to look into other anti-inflammatory measures to take alongside your yoga sessions. For example, the curcumin in turmeric possesses incredible anti-inflammatory powers and can be very easy to supplement.
Bring Yoga Into Your Daily Routine Now
Yoga is far from ‘just’ meditation or stretching.
Regular practise will bring with it reduced stress, better sleep, a stronger physique and a healthier mind. If you’ve got the time for it, there’s really nothing to lose and plenty for you to gain.