Yogi's have been raving about the health benefits of yoga for over 5000 years. The benefits of this ancient practice are only just becoming apparent to the Western world and the good news is that you don't have to be a master to enjoy these benefits. Here are 14 reasons why you should practice yoga regularly.
1. Strengthens Your Joints
Deep poses help you work out your joints in ways that most exercises can't. Getting into those deep poses strengthens the cartilage in your joints by allowing fresh nutrients to get into the spongy material that holds your bones together and keeps them working for longer while preventing the early onset of arthritis. Some yogis swear that regular yoga lessons cured them of their chronic joint pains.
2. You Meet Amazing People
Yogis are the happiest people in the world. That's because stretching your body out lets out all kinds of feel-good endorphins that raise your spirits and make you feel better. Put yourself in a room full of people experiencing the regular release of these feel-good emotions and you are bound to be in the company of people who are optimistic about life and all that it has in store for them.
3. Improves The Quality of Your Blood Flow
Yoga is a brilliant cardiovascular exercise because going into the poses forces you to concentrate on your breathing while your heart pumps faster. Improving your breathing practices like this makes your blood more oxygenated which makes it more effective at delivering oxygenated blood to your extremities such as your hands and feet.
Twisting poses in particular wring out the veins in your internal organs and get rid of any stagnated blood, replacing it with freshly oxidized blood.
4. Boosts Your Immune System
Stretching out muscles and moving your organs around in yoga poses helps your lymph nodes drain out. This fluid is vital in protecting your body against foreign infections and getting it to move around helps it get to where it's needed the most. The more effective your lymph fluid is at getting around your body, the better it is at fighting infections and eliminating toxic waste from your cells.
5. Improves Your Focus
Focusing on the present is an important yet often overlooked aspect of yoga. Meditation helps you do this because when you are in your yoga poses you must focus entirely on maintaining the pose for as long as possible which takes a strong mind. If your mind isn't strong enough yet then regular sessions will help you build that mental resilience.
6. The Foundation of A Healthy Lifestyle
Meditation is an important part of yoga. Convincing yourself to get into the yoga studio is the hard part, but once there you are forced to meditate more often and once you take control of your thought processes through meditation you are able to become more disciplined in other areas of your life such as choosing healthy meal options. After sweating and struggling to get the maximum benefits from twisting into those difficult poses you won't want to eliminate all those gains by smoking or eating unhealthy foods.
7. Improves Your Balance
Proprioception is your awareness of what your body is doing. Yoga helps you build on this awareness which in turn improves your balance and posture. Bad posture is often linked to a weak awareness of what your body is doing therefore regular yoga sessions will take you back inside your body and help you connect with parts of it that you've overlooked. Once you're more aware of these parts you're likely to be less klutzy.
8. Better Breathing Habits
Short, shallow breaths are associated with stress and discomfort. Long, deep breathes on the other hand help your brain relax and make your body feel at ease.
Yogis tend to breathe deeper and longer because breathing practices are a vital part of any yoga posture. Yoga teachers always insist on you taking control of your breathing first and foremost before you go deeper into any stretch. They remind you that you would rather take steady and long breathes but limit how far you go into a pose than have short breathes and go deep into the pose.
9. Boosts Your Self-Esteem
Some of those yoga poses are hard. They are hard specifically so that you can challenge yourself in a new way and see how far you can go. Once you master those poses you will feel much better and congratulate yourself for being able to do something that you once thought was difficult.
10. Builds Your Inner Strength
Most people think that yoga is all about the body but discipline is an important aspect as well. Tapas is the Sanskrit word for the inner strength (or fire) that practicing yoga regularly helps you build and tapas developed in yoga classes starts to manifest itself in other areas of your life.
11. Helps You Heal Yourself By Stimulating Your Mind's Eye
Your mind's eye, better known as the pineal gland, is believed to be the seat of consciousness. It is from this gland in the center of your brain that you are able to manifest your reality by envisioning what you want out of life. Studies have shown that guided meditation which concentrates on healing your body helps people reduce the frequency of their headaches and improve the quality of life for people suffering from chronic diseases. Regular yoga sessions help you improve your ability to envision a healthy body.
12. Improves Your Flexibility
Some people cannot touch their toes despite how hard they try. Those same people won't be able to do a solid back bend either after their first yoga classes, however if they stick with the practice and keep going back for more lessons then they find that they get closer and closer to mastering those poses with every class. Those same people also notice that stiffness in their joints also starts to disappear as their joints loosen up and allow them to move more freely.
13. Combats Depression
Exercise of all forms releases feel-good endorphins into your bloodstream which is your body's way of rewarding you for getting it moving again. Most of us live sedentary lifestyles and move only when absolutely necessary which is detrimental to our mental health. Any form of exercise will help you get out of a funk however the mixture of stretching and muscle building involved in yoga gives you a particularly potent boost of oxytocin. There's a reason why yogi's are always smiling.
14. Increases Fertility
Yoga relieves stress and increases blood flow to the reproductive organs which helps to open up energetic channels that make both men and women more fertile.
Go Easy on Yourself
Yoga is all about self-love so don't push yourself too hard at first and give your body time to adjust to the new regiment. The benefits will all come in time, you just have to stick to the practice.