The Health Benefits of Yoga

Yoga is an ancient practice that connects the mind, body and spirit through body poses, controlled breathing and meditation. You've probably heard that yoga is good for you...

Yoga is an ancient practice that connects the mind, body and spirit through body poses, controlled breathing and meditation. You've probably heard that yoga is good for you. Maybe you’ve even tried it and discovered you feel better.

But what are the specific health benefits yoga can help you achieve?

From lowering blood pressure to increasing pain tolerance, the following health benefits can all be discovered within the body:

Physical Benefits

  • Flexibility: As you stretch your body, it will become more flexible which will give your muscles greater range of motion. Over time, you’ll gain flexibility in your hamstrings, back, shoulders, and hips.
  • Strength: Many yoga poses require you to support the weight of your own body, including balancing on one leg or supporting yourself with your arms. Some exercises require you to move slowly in and out of poses, which also increases strength.
  • Muscle tone: You can expect to see increased muscle tone as yoga helps create long, lean muscles.
  • Pain Prevention: Increased flexibility and strength can help prevent the causes of some types of back pain. Yoga also improves your alignment which helps prevent many other types of pain.
  • Better Breathing: Most of us breathe shallowly into the lungs and don't give much thought to how we breathe. Yoga breathing exercises, called Pranayama, focus the attention on the breath and teach us how to better use our lungs, which benefits the entire body. Certain types of breath can also help clear the nasal passages and even calm the central nervous system, which has both physical and mental benefits.

Mental Benefits

  • Mental Calmness: Yoga asana practice is intensely physical. Concentrating so intently on what your body is doing has the effect of bringing calmness to the mind. Yoga also introduces you to meditation techniques, such as watching how you breathe and disengagement from your thoughts, which help calm the mind.
  • Stress Reduction: Physical activity is good for relieving stress, and this is particularly true of yoga. Because of the concentration required, your daily troubles, both large and small, seem to melt away during the time you are doing yoga. This provides a much-needed break from your stressors, as well as helping put things into perspective. The emphasis yoga places on being in the moment can also help relieve stress, as you learn not to dwell on past events or anticipate the future. You will leave a yoga class feeling less stressed than when you started.
  • Body Awareness: Doing yoga will give you an increased awareness of your own body. You are often called upon to make small, subtle movements to improve your alignment. Over time, this will increase your level of comfort in your own body. This can lead to improved posture and greater self-confidence.

Here’s a short list of additional health benefits of yoga:

  • Lowers High Blood Pressure
  • Improves Cardiovascular HealthIncreases Flexibility
  • Improves Posture
  • Improves Intestinal Functions
  • Improves Coordination & Balance
  • Strengthens & Tones Muscles
  • Reduces Stress & Anxiety
  • Reduces Joint & Muscle Pain
  • Reduces Back Pain
  • Strengthens Immune System
  • Improves Concentration
  • Increases Energy
  • Increases Endurance
  • Improves Sleep
  • Reduces Asthma Symptoms
  • Reduces Migraines
  • Aids in Weight Loss & Maintenance

What health benefits have you received from practicing yoga?

If you haven't started praciticing yoga, what health issues are you dealing with? You may want to consider yoga as an excellent way to start your journey to health.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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Amy Rogers June 17, 2012 at 06:32 PM
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