Benefits of YogaThe word yoga means “to yoke”, or create a union between our body and mind. Yoga provides a multitude of benefits that are both physical and mental; therefore, incorporating a yoga practice into your exercise regimen could improve your daily performance in various facets of your life.
One of the most obvious benefits of yoga is that has the ability to improve our flexibility. Many yoga poses involve stretching and elongating of our muscles. When we improve our flexibility, we are also reducing the likelihood of injury during exercise. Additionally, yoga also helps to strengthen our muscles through isometric isolation. You can utilize particular yoga poses to target very specific muscles groups and increased muscular strength is obtained as we engage muscles in poses and then sustain that engagement for several breaths.
Not only does yoga increase strength and flexibility, it is also extremely healthly for our circulatory system. One of the most foundational pieces of yoga is the breath work, or pranayama. The yogic breathing techniques increase the oxygenation of our blood and the amount of nutrients carried to our vital organs, which translates to more efficient bodily systems. We can also improve our cardiovascular functioning and infuse our muscles with blood when we practice Vinyasa, or flowing yoga poses in sequence. This type of yoga practice results in stretching and toning of the heart, but can also offer the added benefit of enhanced fat loss.
We can also help to improve our posture through the practice yoga. Many of us may work a job where we sit hunched over a computer all day, or you may find yourself with “text neck” as you are frequently looking down at your phone, both of which may result in poor posture and spinal alignment. The movements and poses practiced in yoga promote proper spinal alignment, which assist to reduce back pain, improve breathing and circulation, and protect us against injury.
Many yoga poses require us to hold our bodies in ways that test our balance, and naturally our balance is improved with a regular yoga practice. Improved balance enhances our coordination between our brains and muscles. Improved coordination and communication between our brains and muscles can then assist in improving our core stability and the ability to isolate individual muscles more effectively.
Along with the many physical benefits that yoga offers, a regular yoga practice has also been shown to directly affect the brain and our ability to cope with stress. When we engage in a regular yoga practice that utilizes deep breathing, restorative postures, and mindfulness practices, we actually help our brain grow and become more efficient at responding to stressful situations. Research tells us that regular yoga practices result in less activity in our “fight or flight” brain system and more activity in our brain systems that allow us to effectively analyze information and utilize problem solving skills. In other words, it provides us with the ability to appropriately respond to stressful stimuli instead of immediately reacting from a place of fear or anger.
All the benefits mentioned above are just a few of the ways that yoga can positively impact your daily functioning and the great thing about yoga is that it is for everybody and every body. By practicing yoga we are reducing our risk of chronic disease by lowering our stress levels, improving our overall physical health, and enhancing our blood flow to improve our internal health. Namaste, y’all!