Practicing yoga: yoga is a gentle, all-body exercise that helps calm the mind and reduce stress. Those who practice yoga do it to improve and enhance both mind and body. Today, we will focus on the physical benefits of a regular yoga practice.
The longer you do yoga, the more proficient you’ll become, and the greater benefits you’ll experience. As with any regular movement program, you should do yoga at least three times a week to reap the maximum results.
When you begin yoga, you may feel as flexible as a board. Keep at it. As you continue, you’ll find you can hold poses a little longer each week, and you can move a little further each class. You’ll bend, stretch, and twist with less effort.
All these changes come gradually and won’t happen overnight… but they will happen.
During yoga, you learn to control your breathing by taking long, deep breaths. This improves your lung function and blood oxygen saturation. Your endurance will improve, and you’ll feel more energized from the extra oxygen.
A better metabolism
Certain types of yoga, such as hot yoga (Bikram) or Ashtanga, offer a cardiovascular workout that can boost your metabolism and heart rate. And unlike other cardio, yoga gives you many more benefits for mind and body.
Increased muscle strength and tone
As you do yoga, you build muscle strength without the need for weights or other equipment. Your body weight is your resistance. It’s gentle muscle sculpting without risking injury as you would by using weights or machines.
Yoga is often the first step to healthier lifestyle, which includes weight loss—or at least lack of weight gain. A study at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that overweight people who performed yoga once per week for at least four years lost an average of five pounds, while those who didn’t do yoga gained 13.5 pounds.
Increased blood flow helps the heart work better, transports more nutrients and oxygen through your body, reduces inflammation, and improves the circulation in your extremities.
The movements in yoga use gravity to pull blood to all areas of the body. Increased circulation helps with pain management and organ health.
Protection from injury
A flexible body is less prone to injury. Often, we hurt ourselves by straining tight muscles or forcing our bodies into unnatural positions. Yoga loosens the body, moves joints through the full range of motion, and allows you to move more fluidly, reducing the risk of injury.
Increased sense of well-being
Yoga reduces depression and helps your body lower its levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol. At the same time, your serotonin levels rise, and your mood is elevated.
Many who practice yoga find themselves improving their diets, reducing alcohol and soda intake, and sleeping more soundly.
The level of concentration needed to perform yoga is soothing to the mind and reduces stress. Again, you may not experience this right away, but the more you practice yoga, the less anxious you’ll feel.
When you do feel stress at work or at home, you’ll automatically begin yoga breathing to calm down, or you may go into your favorite pose to relieve anxiety.
Yoga’s typical slow pace teaches you to relax and experience each moment as it happens. You learn to concentrate on what you want your body to do, which calms and rejuvenates you at the same time.
Your body responds with slower respiration and heart rates. Your mind quiets, and you go into a meditative state, which further relaxes you.
Yoga is often the first step in making life changes that improve health and happiness. Those who enjoy yoga become more mindful of healthy changes they can make in other areas of their lives. They tend to be more mindful of their diets, cope better with stress, sleep more soundly, and avoid unhealthy behaviors.
If you’d like to start a yoga practice today, try this video.