There have been a number of articles written regarding the health benefits of yoga. Harvard Health Publication offers one of the best articles summarizing these benefits in its publication titled An Introduction to Yoga – Improve your strength, balance, flexibility, and well-being.
Yoga improves your well-being, including health, in each of these four major ways:
- Reduced Stress
- Better Physical Health
- Better Mental Health
- Increased Well-Being
1. Reduced Stress
With the heated political climate we face and the stress imposed upon all of us with the covid-pandemic, we are more stressed than we have ever been before. Chronic stress can lead to increased anxiety and depression. We are constantly bombarded with negative news and “doom-and-gloom” projections. We are social animals and need to interact with each other, yet, we are limited and restricted as to how we may interact. I don’t know about you, but I miss going to a bar and meeting with friends. It is no wonder that at times we are short-tempered, frustrated, or at times just plain exhausted. These are all the effects of anxiety and depression.
Yoga has a fantastic cross-over benefit, positively affecting both your mind and body. Studies show that the physical practice of yoga and the mental discipline of a yoga practice empowers you to better deal with stress, become more productive, make better decisions, and improve interpersonal relationship.
2. Better Physical Health
Yoga improves physical health in a variety of ways, such as: a) increasing strength, b) improving flexibility, b) reducing inflammation, c) reducing the risk of heart disease, d) boosting your immunity, e) relieving back pain, f) improving Type 2 diabetes management, g) reducing arthritis pain, and most importantly h) activating genes that promote health.
The physical practice of the flow such as holding poses, and breath control lead to improved cardiovascular activity and strength building. Holding poses also leads to building strength and improved flexibility. Focusing on your breath during mediation or during a yoga flow practice leads to the physiological effects of turning on your genes to promote your health. The cumulative effects of a full yoga practice result in the benefits mentioned above as well as other benefits.
3. Better Mental Health
In addition to its physical benefits, yoga also improves mental health by: a) helping create a sharper brain, b) decreasing depression and anxiety, and c) offering relief for PTSD.
The mental health benefits of focusing and meditating during your yoga practice, as well as engaging in a separate meditation practice include increasing the density of your brain, thereby slowing the natural shrinkage in our brain as we age. This results in improved memory, reaction time, learning, and better decision making. Focusing your mind during your yoga practice and meditating is like weight-lifting for your brain.
Studies have also shown that consistent yoga and meditation practices can lead to less stress, anxiety, depression, improve energy, and promote a more positive outlook on life. Finally scientific evidence shows that these practices also offer relief for PTSD and the Department of Veterans Affairs sponsors many yoga-based programs.
4. Increased Well-Being
A regular yoga practice results in better sleep, better body awareness, weight loss, and greater happiness, which results in a greater overall well-being.
Yoga can help you get to sleep faster, sleep longer and more soundly thereby counteracting the chronic health problems such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes without the negative side effects of medication. Yoga, as a stress-buster, may also slow the aging of our cells which are under more strain during constant stress. A regular yoga practice improves mindfulness which helps us make better life-choices such as eating more healthfully, being more aware of our surroundings, and being present in the moment thus leading to greater happiness. We can all use more happiness in these times.
If you're looking to start a yoga practice, we're here to help! Meet our instructors, explore the styles of yoga we offer, and check out our virtual and in-studio schedule. If you have any questions, shoot us an email at hello[at]tpyoga.com