Over the last few decades, yoga has increased in popularity and become one of the more commonly practiced exercises available. Yoga classes fill up fast as more people realize the many health benefits that can be gained from this form of exercise.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is a form of exercise and alternative medicine practice that involves a strong mind-body connection. There are actually many styles of yoga that differ in form and intensity. In general, however, yoga involves a series of poses and breathing methods that are intended to help achieve a calm, peaceful state while also providing a number of health benefits. Most people take yoga in a group class where an instructor can guide them through poses and breathing patterns. However, individuals with more advanced training may also practice yoga on their own.
One of the reasons many people first try yoga is the fact that it’s been known to help reduce stress. Numerous studies have made this connection, so there’s actually quite a bit of data to back up this claim. The fact that yoga tends to be slower paced coupled with its focus on controlled, paced breathing can have a direct effect on a person’s level of anxiety. Reducing stress can also lead to indirect benefits of yoga since too much stress can lead to physical symptoms like headaches, back pain or trouble sleeping.
Improved Mental and Spiritual Well-Being
Reducing stress through yoga can naturally create a calmer state of mind, but this type of exercise can actually go beyond that to give you an improved outlook on life. By creating a better awareness of your mind and body, yoga can help people get in tune with their inner self and find time for reflection. Some studies have even found that practicing yoga can raise GABA levels – low levels of this brain chemical have been linked to depression.
Improved Flexibility and Strength
Yoga helps to increase flexibility and strength, especially when you practice yoga consistently. That’s because many yoga poses focus on a prolonged stretch or supporting your own body weight in various positions. If you find that the yoga you’re practicing isn’t very challenging, you may want to look for a more advanced class – new poses and more difficult techniques can help to further improve your strength and flexibility. One of the more important indirect effects of this benefit is that better flexibility and strength reduces your risk of being injured in all situations, not just while exercising.
All those challenging yoga poses do more than just improve your flexibility and strength. They also help you improve your balance. Many of the poses in yoga rely on core strength to stabilize your body. You can expect your core to tighten and strengthen the more you practice yoga.
For many people, practicing yoga gives them a renewed sense of energy and vitality. Some of that can be attributed to the way in which yoga helps to create a calmer, more confident sense of self. It can even improve your respiration and circulatory health thanks to the breathing patterns involved. That extra energy is also linked to increased libido for some people who do yoga.
Relief for Chronic Conditions
Many people who suffer from chronic pain have found that yoga’s focus on better strength and flexibility has helped relieve their symptoms. In addition, people with other chronic conditions like anxiety, depression and insomnia have also found relief for their symptoms by practicing yoga.
Reduced Risk of Certain Diseases
Certain studies have found that practicing yoga may help reduce the risk of developing certain chronic diseases, including high blood pressure and heart disease among others. This can occur as a result of and combined with various other benefits, such as lowering stress levels, improving circulatory function and losing weight.
Yoga can help people tone up and shed a bit of weight, especially when they pair their exercise with better eating habits. Yoga can be a great way for some inactive individuals to start exercising since its slower pace is less intimidating and the increased energy and strength will help prepare them for other types of exercise. Keep in mind, however, that not all forms of yoga are slow, and some will help you burn more fat than others based on their pace and intensity level.
If you’re looking to get healthier, consider taking a yoga class at a local gym or yoga studio. This form of exercise offers a wide range of health benefits and can help you reduce stress and feel better physically. Keep in mind, however, that you should always practice yoga with a trained instructor. If you are pregnant or suffer from any health problems, including balance problems, herniated disks, or osteoporosis, consult a physician before you try yoga.