Yoga was once pictured as the practice of Hippies, strangely spiritual and surrounded by crystals near a beach or waterfall. Now, if you ask ten people in America if they have gone to a yoga class, nine will say yes. With over 300 million yoga practitioners globally, Yoga is one of the fastest-growing wellness industries in the world and is commonly associated with a healthy lifestyle. The practicing yogis in Northern India over 5000 years ago were onto something. With information readily available about Yoga online, what was once a profoundly spiritual personal practice is now a global sensation. But why is something that has been around so long now having a surge in popularity and practice?
The answer is simple, Yoga is a physical practice for the body and the mind, creating a balance of wellness that promotes a healthy and resilient mind and body.
What Are The Physical Benefits Of Yoga
Exercise takes many forms, and almost all of them have a great range of benefits. However, you will see improvements in other physical activities when you practice Yoga. This is because the benefits of Yoga encompass the whole body and help improve all areas of fitness. For example, Yoga helps improve many professional athletes’ performances and reduces the risks of injury for high-risk professional athletes while building physical resilience. The benefits are equally as impressive for the everyday person.
Elongating and stretching the muscles increases flexibility. Yoga has a series of Asanas ( yoga poses ) practiced in all Yoga Disciplines. Asanas can be the entire body or have a set sequence of flows that includes specific areas.
Strengthens the Spine
Strengthening the spine decreases the risk of spinal injury or tension. In addition, it relieves headaches, assists with migraines and spasms, and increases movement throughout the body.
Improving posture removes many aches and pains that plague many daily. Posture can directly relate to heartburn, intestinal issues, and neck pain. Decreasing tension and pain is directly related to mood and productivity.
Yogas’ primary objective is self-awareness; However, overweight people can practice Yoga and gently reduce their weight. Losing weight has many health benefits, such as relieving pressure on joints, cardiovascular health, and general well-being. From Hatha to Vinyasa, if weight loss is your goal, it is a significant side effect of a daily yoga practice combined with healthy eating habits.
Improves Strength and Balance
In some aged care homes, yoga is used for injury recovery and balance improvement. Yoga can easily be adapted to accommodate the fragile and injured. Feeling your strength improve and having improved mobility all improve your spirit. Studies show that Yoga may help to reduce falls and injury in care homes (1), and studies continue to look into its benefits. Improving your strength and balance generally means you feel better, happier, more confident, and carry yourself higher.
Mental Health Benefits Of Yoga
The mental health benefits of Yoga are both immediate and long-term.
Yoga has been shown to increase dopamine and oxytocin levels (2). Dopamine, the feel-good hormone, gives you a sense of pleasure when released into the body. Because of this, your brain recognizes that it can achieve this pleasure by repeating the task, motivating you to continue actions that release dopamine (3). Your body releases Oxytocin during sex, childbirth, breastfeeding, and intimacy of a non-sexual nature that fosters a sense of warmth and bonding. The release of these hormones is the immediate feel-good effect that will boost your mood immediately after a few classes. You will carry this into your day and evening. The positive results flow on and include:
Controls Hormones that increase stress and Inflame Anxiety and Depression
In addition to the hormones that give an immediate positive effect, Yoga assists the body in reducing Cortisol. This is the hormone that creates the fight-or-flight response. Reducing Cortisol reduces inflammation and stress in the body. Reducing Cortisol minimizes the sense of urgency that makes stress for no reason throughout your day.
Yoga Teaches You To Live In The Moment
Yoga creates a space for your body and mind to yoke or join, encouraging you to place the world outside your space while practicing. This teaches you to live in what is immediately in front of you and reduce pointless worrying about the past and future, creating a peaceful present. This gives you tools to combat anxiety and eases depression as a result.
Learning the breathing and relaxation methods of Yoga allows a safe space to be created at any point you require it. This will enable you to recognize when you are stressed and give you the tools to reduce that stress. Knowing how to relax allows better sleep and creates a more productive and happy day. This flows on to improve relationships both personally and professionally.
Yoga teaches you to walk taller, improve posture, and feel physically more robust and resilient. This flows to mental health and creates a more resilient, productive, and positive state of mind, creating a healthier and happier disposition.
Yoga nourishes the mind, the body, and the overall wellness of any who chooses to try it. There is a style and class for everyone, and everyone can benefit. If you are looking for a healthy habit to add to your routine, yoga is a fantastic addition for everyone, including older adults!
- Youkhana, Dean, Wolff, Sherrington, and Tiedemann. Yoga-based exercises improves balance.., https://doi.org/10.1093/ageing/afv175
- Stephens I. Medical Yoga Therapy. Children. 2017; 4(2):12. https://doi.org/10.3390/children4020012
- Cleaveland Clinic, Dopamine, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22581-dopamine