The Many Health Benefits of Yoga
There Are Many Health Benefits of Regular Yoga Practice
Yoga offers many health benefits. It can help to improve not only your physical health but your mental and emotional health as well. Yoga can also help to prevent and lessen the severity of many different health conditions. Regular yoga practice can improve your overall health in a variety of ways.
One of the most obvious health benefits of yoga is increased flexibility. When you practice yoga poses, or asanas, you stretch your muscles, ligaments, and tendons. By practicing yoga, you can increase the range of motion of your joints and may increase lubrication in the joints. These things help to increase your body’s flexibility as you continue your yoga practice (Hoffman).
Yoga may also improve strength. The more vigorous styles of yoga, such as Power Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga, can help improve muscle tone. Poses such as downward dog, upward dog, and plank build upper body strength. Standing poses, like tree pose, build strength in the hamstrings, quadriceps, and abdominal muscles, especially when you hold your breath. Poses like upward dog and chair can help to strengthen the lower back (Hoffman).
Improved strength and flexibility from yoga can also help to improve your posture. Yoga helps to strengthen the core, and a strong core allows you to sit and stand tall. Yoga also improves your body awareness, which helps you to know if you are slouching so you can know when to adjust your posture (Hoffman).
Yoga can also help increase your lung capacity. Yoga emphasizes deepening and lengthening your breath, which stimulates relaxation. Intense yoga that gets you breathing hard, especially in a heated room, can have an aerobic effect (Hoffman).
Yoga also has health benefits for the heart. Yoga lowers blood pressure and slows the heart rate, which can help people with hypertension, heart disease, or who have had a stroke. Yoga also helps to decrease cholesterol and triglyceride levels and helps to boost the immune system (Hoffman).
Mental Health, Stress, Concentration, and Mood
Yoga also helps to reduce stress and improve concentration and mood. Even beginners tend to notice that they are more relaxed and less stressed even after the first class. The deep breathing involved in yoga helps to calm the mind and make you feel more relaxed. Yoga can also help to decrease hormones that are related to stress and may also increase the hormone oxytocin, which is known as the “trust” and “bonding” hormone. Most people also feel happier after doing yoga. There is some evidence that yoga may also help fight depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (Hoffman).
Yoga also has other emotional benefits. It can help with self-acceptance, self-control, mind-body connection, social skills, and a positive outlook on life. It also helps to lessen the severity of anxiety and depression symptoms. Memory and concentration can also be improved by regularly practicing yoga (Walker).
Many women experience painful cramps during that time of the month. Certain yoga poses have been shown to relieve pain associated with menstrual cramps. Yoga can help to relieve physical pain associated with menstruation, including abdominal cramping and back pain. It can also help with the mental and emotional symptoms associated with PMS and menstruation.
You may be surprised to learn that yoga can also help improve your sexual health. Yoga may improve your body’s sensitivity and endurance. Because yoga helps with stress relief and relaxation, it may indirectly make sex more enjoyable. Yoga improves flexibility throughout the body and strengthens the pelvic floor muscles, which may improve intimacy. Knowing, and being able to do, various yoga positions might also help you to discover new sexual positions (Yoga and Sex).
Other Health Concerns and Conditions
Yoga may also help improve various other health conditions and diseases. It has been used to help treat symptoms of conditions such as asthma, back pain, and arthritis. There have also been clinical trials studying yoga and it’s benefits for insomnia and multiple sclerosis. Medical researchers are also studying benefits of therapeutic yoga, called “integrative yoga therapy,” which has been used to treat depression and heart disease (Hoffman). Yoga can also help to improve gastrointestinal functions, pain tolerance, and metabolism. It can also help to slow down the aging process by stimulating the detoxification processes of the body (Walker).
Yoga is fun and effective form of exercise that has many different health benefits. Regular yoga practice as been shown to improve the symptoms of many diseases and health conditions. Even if you don’t have a major health concern, yoga can still improve your overall health by improving your flexibility and strength, as well as by relieving stress.
Hoffman, Matthew. "The Health Benefits of Yoga." WebMD. N.p., 12 Aug. 2008. Web. 19 Nov. 2009. <http://www.webmd.com/balance/the-health-benefits-of-yoga>.
Walker, Meredith. "77 Surprising Health Benefits of Yoga." The Nursing School Catalog. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2009. <http://www.nursingdegree.net/blog/24/77-surprising-health-benefits-of-yoga/>.
"Yoga and Sex." I Love India. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2009. <http://yoga.iloveindia.com/yoga-benefits/yoga-and-sex.html>.
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