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December 15, 2018 4 min read

By Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD

Yoga is an excellent workout and helps to relax the mind and spirit along with the body, so it takes care of both physical and mental health. Practicing yoga on a regular basis engenders inner peace and calm. At the same time, yoga gives you energy and also acts as an amazing motivator that subtly pushes people to kick bad habits to the curb and embrace lucrative opportunities, leading to an improved lifestyle.

Ancient practitioners of yoga dedicated themselves to a lifestyle and culture that was way above just meditation techniques, and included healthy eating habits, bathing habits, social interaction and work. The basic philosophy remains the same: The concept is rooted in a physical culture of health and well-being, which is why millions of people around the world practice it. Every pose in yoga has a name, and poses includes standing postures, seated twists, backbends, arm balances, inversions and core holds. Each of these works wonders on the body and helps to unlock a plethora of health benefits. 

Benefits of Yoga

Reduces Chances of Injury

While running is often considered the simplest and most convenient way to exercise, the quick and forceful movements involved in running increase the chances of injury and muscle tension. Rigorous exercises can trigger an imbalance of opposing muscle groups, while yoga focuses on balancing this activity.

While yoga is easier on the body, that does not mean it can't be an intense workout. Yoga builds heat and puts your muscles through a solid workout session without straining joints, which can lead to injuries. While you can continue to do higher-impact exercises, make sure some low-impact yoga is a part of your fitness routine as well.

Helps You Lose Weight

When you are overweight, it is a clear indication of imbalance in your lifestyle, which can be corrected by yoga. A major contributor to weight gain is excessive stress and tension, yoga practice yoga brings a sense of relaxation to both body and mind, so you can say goodbye to stress and lose weight naturally.

Improves Flexibility

People often avoid practicing yoga because they don’t think they’re flexible enough. What matters here is mobility, which makes it simpler to complete everyday movements that require kneeling, bending, etc. Yoga helps to boost mobility so these movements become easier and you don’t feel so stuck in your body. Regardless of how tight your muscles are, yoga poses are completely safe when performed correctly, as they help to stretch muscles without too much strain. Other soft tissue in the body such as ligaments and tendons are also stretched, so the range of motion in joints increases and you can move more freely.

Builds Muscle Tone and Strength

Yoga helps with agility, and makes you stronger in the process. It is considered to be a full-body workout because it targets all muscles in the body via static holds and dynamic movement. You are not only supporting your own body weight, but building up functional strength as well. For instance, there are numerous poses that have a remarkable effect on upper body strength, like  downward and upward dog, while planking makes your core stronger. Standing poses help to boost upper leg muscles and lower back. The tree pose, which entails balancing on one leg, is a good example. Holding these poses over the course of several breaths builds up muscular strength.

Improves Posture

Good posture not only has physical benefits; it affects your mental well-being as well. Yoga combines core strengthening with core mobility and proprioception (body awareness), and can help to improve posture, which in turn can ease anxiety and back pain.

Relieves Pain

Yoga stretches the muscles in your body slowly and helps to open the energy channels from deep within. The heightened flexibility ensures your muscles and joints are lubricated and healthy. On the other hand, weights and treadmills cause strain, so you might experience aches and soreness. Recent studies have found that people with conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune diseases, and hypertension as well as arthritis, back and neck pain and other chronic conditions can be immensely by practicing yoga regularly.

Eases Stress

Most of us lead hectic lifestyles, which lead to stress and anxiety. Staying physically active is crucial for stress relief, and the concentration required for yoga practice provides a much-needed break from stressors, as well as helping to put your issues into perspective. As you focus, your daily problems and troubles drift away. The physical effects of stress on the body are also reduced. Yoga relaxes from within, so levels of stress hormones like cortisol drop sharply. Related health benefits include reducing blood pressure, improving digestion and boosting the immune system.

Enhances Sleep

Lack of a good night’s rest can completely mess with your daily routine. The less stressed you are, the better you will sleep at night. Yoga induces mental relaxation so you can drift off to dreamland without tossing and turning. Studies have shown that yoga can improve the quality and quantity of sleep for those suffering from insomnia. 

If you’re looking to decrease pain and stress, think seriously about trying yoga. You can spend as little as a half hour every day practicing at home guided by free videos available online, or attend classes at least twice a week. (These usually run an hour and 15 minutes). Either way, taking time to unwind and rejuvenate through this ancient practice can relieve a multitude of ills and bring peace to an otherwise chaotic day.

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