When I used to think about yoga I would imagine a guy in some bed sheets with a long beard sitting at the top of a mountain in some weird contorted state.
While those people might actually exist, yoga isn’t restricted to just those types of people.
Yoga is for everybody!
There isn’t a single person, no matter the age or weight, that can’t benefit from yoga in some form.
Many people misunderstand yoga because they think it is simply for increasing your flexibility. While that is one of the great benefits of yoga there are so much more.
I want to share them with you.
11 Awesome Ways Yoga Improves Your Health
The benefits of yoga go far beyond making you nimble. Here are 11 ways that yoga improves the quality of your life.
1. Improves Your Flexibility
I might as well start off with the obvious one here.
When you first get started with yoga you will find that you can’t fully complete a lot of the beginner poses. You just aren’t flexible enough and trying to get into those positions will hurt.
It might feel like your tendons are ripping apart but you are merely stretching them to new limits. If you stick with it, you’ll start to nice a gradual loosening of your muscles and eventually you’ll start doing the impossible.
As you get more flexible you’ll start to notice that your old aches and pains disappear. Tight hips can strain your needs. Tight hamstrings can lead to back pain. Any type of inflexibility in your muscles and connective tissue can cause poor posture which then leads to a whole set of healthy issues.
If the only thing you get out of yoga is improved flexibility then you are in a good state.
2. Builds Muscle Strength
When I first started to do yoga this one wasn’t apparent to me. I associate muscle-building with bodyweight exercises or hitting the gym.
Yoga helps you to build muscles, but not get bulky because you end up holding yourself in certain positions that requires a lot of strength. As your muscle strength increases, you might find that your arthritis and back pain begins to disappear.
3. Perfects Your Posture
Think about a skeleton and how every bone seems to be connected. The less work certain bones have to do then the better your body will feel.
Your head is pretty heavy. I’m not trying to insult you. I have a massive head so my head might be the heaviest one you’ve ever seen.
Because your head is big, round, and heavy it needs to be balanced correctly. When it’s balanced directly over an erect spine, it means that the neck and back muscles have to do much less work.
Moving it a couple of inches in any direction means that those muscles start to strain.
If you’re someone that likes to slump then you might be surprised to know that when you do this your body compensates by flattening the normal inward curves in your neck and lower back. This can lead to some pain and degenerative arthritis.
If you suffer from back pain then you shouldn’t be surprised to know that yoga is great for sciatica.
4. Prevents Cartilage and Joint Breakdown
Yoga ensures that you are putting your joints through a workout. Yoga makes your joints go through a full range of motion which helps to prevent degenerative arthritis.
For this to make sense think of your joint cartilage as a sponge that requires fresh nutrients. The only way it can receive fresh nutrients is if the old fluids are flushed out. This occurs when the joints are squeezed then a new supply of nutrients can be soaked up.
Without this constant refreshment of new nutrients areas of cartilage can eventually wear out, exposing the underlying bone.
5. Protects Your Spine
Spinal disks love to be moved. As you just learned this is the only way they can get nutrients.
Being consistent with yoga practice ensures that you’ll keep your disks supple.
6. Increases Your Blood Flow
It’s important that you circulate as much blood throughout your body as possible because blood contains oxygen. Your cells operate much better when they get more oxygen and this why yoga is important.
Twisting poses, for example, wring out venous blood from your internal organs and allow oxygenated blood to flow in once the twist is released.
Inverted poses encourage blood to flow back into the heart where it can be pumped into the lungs for more oxygen.
Yoga is also known to boost levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the tissues.
It also helps to thin the blood which leads to a decrease in heart attacks and strokes.
If you want to get the benefits of increased blood flow then check out these 16 yoga poses to increase flexibility.
7. Lowers Blood Sugar
Yoga lowers blood sugar and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and boosts HDL (“good”) cholesterol. In people with diabetes, yoga has been found to lower blood sugar in several ways:
- lowering cortisol and adrenaline levels
- encouraging weight loss
- improving insulin sensitivity
Getting your blood sugar levels down decreases your risk of diabetic complications.
8. Helps You Focus
Yoga makes you focus on the present.
Studies have found that regular yoga practice improves coordination, reaction time, and memory.
9. Relaxes Your System
One of the main causes of unwanted weight gain is stress.
Yoga encourages you to relax by slowing your breath and focusing on the present.
Here is a great 10-minute yoga workout for stress.
10. Helps You Sleep
Yoga is great for helping you get better sleep by relaxing the mind and providing meditation to relax the nervous system.
Getting more sleep is a pre-requisite for losing weight.
11. Prevents IBS and Other Digestive Problems
Ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation are all made worse by stress.
The less you stress, the less you will suffer from these things.
Yoga is also a great way to improve digestion. You don’t want to keep the bad things in your system for too long and yoga can help to ensure that your body is doing the work necessary to get rid of toxins.
Yoga Is Great for Everyone
Yoga has so many benefits for your body that it makes sense for everybody to practice it. You don’t have to turn yourself into a professional yogi, but getting more flexible, building muscle strength, and increasing blood flow throughout your body is going to help you live a better life.