Yoga has grown in popularity in the United States over the last few decades, but it is actually a 5,000 year old practice. If yoga has endured for so long, it must certainly have real benefits. If you’ve been thinking about starting a yoga practice, check out these surprising mental and physical benefits of daily yoga.
The physical aspect of yoga is mostly about elaborate stretching of muscles. Not surprisingly, the various poses of yoga will improve your flexibility when practiced daily.
It takes muscle strength to hold poses for the recommended 30 to 60 seconds. As you continue to practice, you will find your muscle strength improving along with your flexibility. This can help protect against conditions like arthritis and back pain.
Combined with deep breathing and meditation techniques, the movements of yoga can help reduce stress. It helps you learn to quiet your mind and push away thought patterns that lead to stress. Yoga encourages you to relax as you work your body’s movements, bringing a well-rounded approach to stress relief.
Because yoga is calming and restorative, it can improve focus and memory. Reducing stress can also help you recall information more clearly.
Bone and Joint Strength
If osteoporosis is a concern, yoga may be a solution. Bearing weight on your bones can increase bone density and reduce the risk of fractures. It also reduces the level of cortisol in your body, which may help retain calcium in your bones.
Exercises performed during yoga help get your blood flowing, which gets more oxygen to the cells and improves their function. Twisting poses are especially good for circulation, as the stale blood is pushed back to the heart during the twist and oxygenated blood takes its place when you release.
Helps You Sleep
The stress reducing poses and deep breathing exercise of yoga can help you wind down from the daily stress of life. This can improve your ability to sleep at night, and help you stay asleep longer.
Boosts Your Mood
Daily yoga practice can even improve depression by boosting seratonin levels and reducing cortisol, the stress hormone. Coupled with greater mental clarity and focus, yoga can dramatically improve your overall mood and happiness.