Top 10 Health Benefits of Yoga

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Yoga is an ancient Indian system of exercise, created to unify body and mind. It is one of the most effective ways to relax your body and mind. A little time is all you need to make a difference. While the human mind tends to focus on the past or future, the body exists only in present. Coming back to your body through yoga postures bring your mind back to the present moment.

The more you practice, the stronger your body will become and the more powerfully connected you will feel to your body. The more connected to your body you feel, the less you will be susceptible to the stresses and strains of everyday life. Here are the top 10 benefits of yoga.

1. Improves Flexibility

Being more flexible means you have a reduced risk of injury, as your muscles won’t be so tight. Your body will also feel less restricted during cardiovascular exercise. Flexibility can be developed through holding postures and positions with the muscles lengthened. The effects will be different for everyone, but you should start to feel improvement after a few sessions. The all-important element of consistency is key and aiming for that twice-a-week minimum rule.

2. Better Balance

Yoga encourages a holistic approach, working the body in a more complete way than many other forms of exercise. It balances and conditions the body as a whole and energizes you. By observing your body as you practice, you become aware of how your body feels in different poses and can identify any weakness or tight spots. Many of the poses throw you away from your centre of gravity and strengthen the ligaments in the knees and ankles as you learn to stand on one leg. This helps to improve balance.

3. Greater Strength

When we talk about improving strength, we often think about lifting weights. Yet yoga is also effective for becoming stronger. You need good strength to hold many of the poses as you are using your own body weight for resistance and putting your body in positions where your muscles have to work hard to support you. Try doing 20 bodyweight press-ups instead of 20 reps on the seated chest press and you will get the picture.

4. Improves Concentration

Many athletes use the meditative aspects of yoga to help them gain the competitive edge over their opponents. Generally, people in sports are under pressure to perform at their best at all times and this creates a lot of internal stress and anxiety, which can be detrimental to their performance. If you can learn to reduce this stress and anxiety through yoga, you can free your mind and solely concentrate on your performance.

5. Recover Faster

You can help your body recover from a training session, as the moves can flush out toxins, such as lactic acid, which builds up in the body during strenuous exercise. A study revealed that a single bout of yoga appeared to reduce muscle soreness. Yoga can also aid recovery by helping you sleep better. If you have managed to calm your mind during a yoga class, you are more likely to go to bed relaxed and sleep better.

6. More Stamina

It is now agreed that yoga can help improve stamina and cardiovascular fitness, especially if you choose the more dynamic forms of the discipline. Challenging yoga poses will increase your heart rate and help you be physically demanding, and this may improve the efficiency of your heart. If your yoga class is making you breathe heavier, break out in a light sweat. Bikram, Vinyasa or Power yoga can see your heart soar.

7. Positive Mindset

If you train your body and not your mind, when you compete, your brain goes into overdrive. Jumbled thoughts, some positive, some negative and thoughts of past races or matches that didn’t go well, along with the pressure to perform on the day, can be overwhelming. A strong mindset is key and yoga can help develop this. All types of yoga are designed to connect to body, mind and soul which helps us to connect to our spiritual self.

8. Better Breathing

When you are stressed or under pressure, your breathing rate increases and you are often told to ‘take a deep breath’ to calm down. It makes sense. Breathing more slowly reduces your heart rate, which helps you focus and stay in a calm state. Yoga teaches how to control your breathing, slowing it down, so that you breathe through your diaphragm and take deep breaths. Like any skill, we must learn to breathe and it requires practice to make it into a habit.

9. Aids in Weight loss

Many people think and believe that yoga is all about deep breathing, meditation and less intense stretching. It may be true but there is much more to yoga. When applied correctly, yoga can be an incredible tool for weight loss. It is well known that a stress hormone called cortisol causes weight gain and stubborn belly fat. Yoga has been scientifically proven to decrease the cortisol levels. Perform yoga on a regular basis to burn calories and burn fat off your body.

10. Improves Sleep

Apart from improving core strength and flexibility, yoga can help you sleep better. Many people in the world suffer from sleeplessness (Insomnia) due to their fast-paced lives and busy schedules. Yoga will help you to sleep for a longer time, fall asleep faster and also have sound sleep. It can benefit senior citizens, pregnant women and even teenagers. Some of the best poses to prepare your body for sleep are corpse pose, lying butterfly pose and legs up the wall pose.

As you read the top health benefits of yoga, do not procrastinate, start performing it. First learn the basics about the yoga principles, postures and gear. It’s time to enjoy the amazing stretching and strengthening benefits these postures have to offer. Mix and match your favourite poses to create your own daily practice.