People think yoga is just a way to get flexible, and it certainly can be. But yoga is actually so much more than that.
Yoga has been around for thousands of years; it started as a way to connect with the divine. Over time, it has been turned into a physical exercise as well, especially here in the west.
The complete practice actually does those two things together: yoga connects your body to your mind and your spirit.
You can concentrate on your breathing and clear your head, or you can connect with the universe and feel the divine energy flowing through you.
Yoga isn’t just something that is done in a yoga studio; it’s also very practical. It can be done anytime, anywhere. You can even practice pranayama exercises in line at the grocery store.
Studies have shown that there are many surprising benefits to yoga, including ones that help our health. Most people know that yoga is very good for flexibility, but there are many more benefits to practicing it often.
Here are some surprising ways that yoga is good for you (that go beyond getting rid of tension in your shoulders).
1. Yoga increases strength and muscle tone
Through long holds of poses, you can improve your strength and muscle tone. Yoga is great for introducing you to muscles you didn’t realise you have.
2. Yoga relieves aches and pains throughout the body
By releasing endorphins, reducing lactic acid build up, and improving range of motion, yoga is a great way to reduce pain in your body.
3. Yoga can help you sleep better at night
Through calming the mind, and progressively relaxing the muscles in your body, yoga can help you get a good night’s sleep. Through a relaxing evening yoga class, you’re conditioning your mind to unwind before bed and not carry the day’s stresses with you.
4. Yoga reduces stress and anxiety
One of the best reasons to do yoga is to reduce stress and anxiety. Yoga is a fantastic tool for calming the mind, and realising that most things that plague our thoughts aren’t worth worrying about.
5. Yoga can help to prevent injuries from exercise
Yoga is one of the best ways to condition the body and improve your range of motion. By increasing flexibility, strength, and balance, you reduce your likelihood of injury during other forms of exercise and other physical activities in your life.
6. Yoga can help you lose weight or maintain weight loss
Yoga can help you with weight loss in a couple ways. Firstly, yoga helps you decrease your stress levels, which decreases the cortisol levels in your body. When cortisol levels are high, your body hangs onto fat.
Secondly, yoga burns calories while you’re doing the asanas, but beyond that, yoga increases muscle mass which means you burn more calories at rest.
7. Yoga increases lung capacity and leads to better cardio health
Through yoga pranayama exercises, yoga can help in strengthening your chest muscles, increase your lung capacity. The regular practice of yoga can improve your pulmonary and cardio health over time.
8. Yoga can help athletes (or anyone) to develop better focus and concentration during physical activities
Yoga teaches us to remain present in the body and stay focused in the present moment. Yoga teaches us to be mindful of the sensations we feel. This directly translates to increased focus and concentration during all physical activities throughout your life.
9. Yoga can help people with depression
By increasing serotonin in the brain, yoga can help people with depression. Slight yoga-induced alterations to brain chemistry can lead to more positive thoughts.