9 Amazing Ways Yoga Benefits Your Physical and Mental Health
Yoga has been around for thousands of years. it’s a practice that almost anyone can do, regardless of age or fitness level. Science backs up the many different yoga benefits to your mental and physical health.
As a busy mom, it’s hard to find time for self-care. But as I so often emphasize self-care is not optional if you want to be the best mom and person you want to be. Your health and fitness should be your top priority! Because trust me when I say this if you don’t take care/look after yourself, then no one, and I mean no one else, will. Yoga with its many benefits is a fun way to include self-care into your daily life.
But how can yoga help you to keep in shape and enhance your mental health?
There we have it, the most common question. The how.
Some might believe that words like self-care or self-preservation are associated with spending a lot of time and money on health and fitness. And it is only for rich people. What a lousy representation of this word, don’t you think? This is a huge reason why people avoid taking care of themselves. But who said you need fancy gyms or spas to take care of your mental and physical health?
It’s so much easier to incorporate and enjoy the vast array of yoga benefits than you think.
After you start practicing yoga you will find for yourself that it is beneficial to your overall health. It has been shown to reduce stress, improve mood, and increase flexibility.
In this article, we will discuss some of the ways in which yoga benefits your mental and physical health.
What is yoga?
Yoga which is union or yoking for Sanskrit is a series of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines that has origins in India, dating back to around 5000 BC. As you advance in your practice, yoga becomes a lifestyle that transforms your body, mind, and spirit into a more rooted and calm state. Ultimately it leads us to soul discovery and acceptance of self and others.
It is a form of art used by many bringing discipline in life, attaining mental peace, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Adding yoga to your daily routine will benefit your mind, body, and soul!
Want to know more about the vast array of yoga benefits? Read on!
Yoga benefits include relaxing the body, calming the mind, and stilling our thoughts. Yoga means union or yoke and refers to the physical joining of breath to the movement for the purpose of achieving self-realization or self-awareness.
Yoga emphasizes personal growth through the raising of consciousness. In recent years, its become increasingly popular in the US as well as other Western countries.
Disclaimer: For informational purposes only. I love yoga but I’m not a health professional. Please see your health professional to discuss what type of exercise is best for you.
As you can imagine yoga benefits for mental and physical health are numerous. Yoga exercises are varied which makes the practice ideal for almost everyone. Practicing yoga regularly brings about body awareness that helps you feel good.
Yoga can often be viewed as a mind-body intervention. This means it has the ability to affect our physical health in many ways, for example by lowering blood pressure or building strength.
The practice of yoga appears to offer a wide range of mental and physical health benefits. From the cardiovascular system to chronic low back pain and the parasympathetic nervous system, yoga’s ability to enhance wellbeing is well documented in healthcare research.
These are 9 different ways that yoga can benefit your mental and physical health:
1. Yoga benefits stress relief
There are countless studies that show people who do yoga have a lower sense of physical and mental stress and anxiety disorder. People with depression and anxiety may find yoga helpful in managing their symptoms. Yoga can enhance your mood and build resilience. Yoga is one of the most popular forms of exercise in the United States and across the world. People who practice yoga are healthier, happier, and more connected to themselves, others, and nature. Regular yoga practice has been proven to reduce stress levels and improve mental health.
2. Yoga benefits physical wellness
Yoga can enhance your weight loss efforts. It aids in boosting metabolism as well as boosts muscle strength and creates a better ambiance for eating right and getting fit. As part of your daily routine, it will get you back on track and help keep you there.
Yoga is a great way to address weight issues you may be struggling with. Yoga can help boost your metabolism and build muscle strength, two things that are essential for weight management. Yoga is also a great form of exercise that does not require any equipment, making it very accessible.
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3. Yoga benefits mental health
According to the Alzheimers Association, 1 in 3 seniors dies from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. It kills more people than breast cancer & prostate cancer combined.
Recent studies have shown that yoga is an excellent form of therapy for those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and has been known to provide relief from stress.
For people living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, practicing yoga is a relatively safe form of movement (with a low risk for injury). Classes for this group are often shorter than a typical yoga session and performed in yoga-like movements at a slow, easy pace.
Yoga also helps improve memory and concentration and can help those who suffer from anxiety disorder and depression.
4. Yoga benefits pain relief
One of the most important physical benefits of yoga is that it can relieve pain. Many studies support this. Aerobic exercises like the breathing techniques in yoga are successfully shown to decrease chronic pain, fatigue, and depression.
Yoga offers excellent chronic pain relief and is a way to stay calm, soothe stress, and get through tough times. It’s important to pay attention when we feel pain. Yoga offers a perfect opportunity to do just that.
It doesn’t matter if you have just been diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition or are dealing with one that has already taken over your life – yoga can be your path to finding relief. Back pain is a problem that almost everyone of various ages complains about. Well, yoga might just be the solution to your problem.
From chronic pain to migraines or neck pain, yoga offers incredibly powerful techniques that can help people suffering from these and many other health conditions.
For example, Cat-Cow is a sequence of yoga poses that are designed to stretch your spine. They also help to relieve tension and improve the flow of your breathing.
Cat-Cow Yoga Pose
5. Yoga benefits appetite
Cravings can be triggered by anxiety and depression, and there are specific yoga poses that help get rid of those feelings related to your appetite.
While some workout routines can increase your hunger, yoga can actually do the opposite. Studies show that regular practice is tied to mindful eating, especially through breath awareness, which strengthens the mind-body connection.
Curbing appetite is one of the biggest challenges for people attempting a healthier lifestyle and may be trying to manage weight. However, research suggests that yoga poses help decrease levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin and increase levels of the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin. This means yoga can help you get rid of those extra pounds you have been trying to lose!
6. Yoga benefits sleep quality
Yoga is recognized as an effective way to improve the sleep quality of many individuals of different ages. It specifically can relieve sleep disturbances such as insomnia.
Sleep is the basis of your entire day, actually your entire life. And a bedtime yoga ritual can set your life on the right track by regulating your sleep cycle!
For children and young adults, it can also help them get more active during their day, improving their mental and physical wellbeing.
Older adults benefit from yoga in improved sleep quality. Better sleep allows them more time to focus on important areas in life and keeps them active when they might otherwise become inactive due to age-related disabilities.
While yoga benefits sleep quality in most age groups, when it comes to improving sleep quality, it is not proven that yoga is the only factor in this improvement. It is extremely important for those who are considering doing yoga for its potential benefits on sleep quality to remember that other factors play a role as well.
7. Yoga benefits heart health
Yoga can improve your cardiovascular health by lowering your blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol levels. In addition to that, it can help prevent triglycerides from becoming too high.
High blood pressure is a serious risk factor for heart problems and even kidney issues.
Also, studies show that when combined with a healthy diet and other positive lifestyle changes, yoga can help to lower bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol.
Combined exercise and relaxation techniques in yoga provide huge benefits to blood pressure. Researchers have found that yoga significantly reduces blood pressure and heart rate, which is linked to improved health.
8. Yoga benefits muscle strength and flexibility
Yoga improves flexibility and mobility and increases range of motion. Over time, the ligaments and muscles will lengthen and become more elastic.
Yoga is a type of weight-bearing exercise that strengthens bones and improves bone density over time. In addition, stronger muscles and improved balance help you avoid falls and fractures that can be caused by falls.
The poses you do in yoga leave you with a strengthened core and increased flexibility.
With stronger muscles, your joints are at less risk of injury. Yoga not only strengthens and helps to protect your joints but it also often delays or keeps arthritis at bay.
Healthy bones and strong muscles make for happy joints. It is important to stay active so that your body stays fit, which will also help maintain healthy bone density and reduce the risk of injury, especially in your joints.
9. Breathing Better & Deeper
Pranayama breathing exercises used in yoga help us relearn how to breathe in stressful situations, improve lung function, and make us feel more relaxed.
Practicing certain pranayamas can help you to deepen your breathing. This will activate the body’s parasympathetic system, which will send a signal that it is time to relax. By calming our breathing, we can significantly reduce our stress levels.
Branches of yoga
Many beginners aren’t aware that various branches of yoga exist. We don’t want you to be one of them.
So, let’s get into it.
There are many branches of yoga, and each focuses on specific things and has particular characteristics to them, suitable for different kinds of situations and/ or people. These are some of the branches of yoga (not the entire list):
- Raja yoga: Raja yoga, is a branch of yoga that includes meditation along with strict adherence to something called the eight limbs of yoga, which are a series of disciplinary steps.
- Bhakti yoga: people usually opt for this type of yoga when they want to channel their emotions positively and when they want to practice tolerance and/ or acceptance. Bhakti is related to loving/kindness and is directed to Jesus Christ.
- Karma yoga: a type of yoga that helps a person achieve a future free from things like negativity and selfishness
There are a few more branches and many many types of yoga. Just choose which one suits you and work with your healthcare professional to adapt it to your situation.
Styles (or types) of yoga
In addition to branches of yoga, there are many styles of yoga. You may be familiar with terms such as vinyasa or hatha yoga. This article lists many more.
Choose the yoga practice that will benefit you the most. Be sure to consult with your doctor to ensure you are doing your best to improve your health and not harming yourself.
Tips to start practicing yoga
You don’t need to spend plenty of money to achieve a healthy mind and body, meaning you don’t need many things to get started with yoga.
But this isn’t even the best part.
Although you can always take classes from a yoga instructor and/or go to their class every day. You can also achieve a healthy life while practicing at home. Amazing, right?
Various programs exist online through video on platforms such as YouTube that can help you start with yoga. Some like Yoga Burn by Zoe Bray-Cotton offer a free and paid version using a subscription. Many include courses for beginners as well as for those who have been practicing for a while. Take this quiz to see which version may work for you.
So here are a few basic steps that might help you as a beginner:
- Create a nice comfortable space that is large enough for you to move around.
- Make sure to remove things that might hurt you or cause an injury from places close by.
- Get a comfortable, preferably colorful (personal choice) yoga mat.
- Choose the yoga style you want to practice
- (A very important step) Now relax and enjoy!
If you’ve never tried yoga before, give it a shot. You can find a class near you through many community centers and parks. Plus, as mentioned above you can find various programs on platforms such as YouTube.
Also, keep in mind that even if you don’t think you’re flexible enough to do the poses, there are other practices that don’t require as much flexibility. I also recommend starting out in a smaller class so you can ask lots of questions and receive more individualized attention.
Yoga is a wonderful way to stay both mentally and physically healthy. Since practicing yoga can be fun, it’s easy to continue with the routine. Through your practice, you’ll find that yoga has a positive effect on many aspects of your life.