We love yoga... obviously! It's super fun but did you know that yoga has an array of physical, mental and spiritual benefits? We compiled 17 benefits of yoga from recent medical and science research so you don't have to. Time to roll our mats out.
(A) The Physical Benefits of Yoga
1. Yoga improves flexibility
Perhaps one of the most obvious yoga benefits is the improvement to flexibility. A study conducted among 71 participants across the ages of 20–50 years showed that Hatha Yoga can improve muscular strength and flexibility across different age groups. The study also stated that yoga can be helpful in the prevention of age-related deterioration of strength and flexibility. An 8-week study looked at the therapeutic effects of Hatha Yoga for injured industrial workers and determined that it did indeed have therapeutic effects and increased the flexibility of the lower back and hamstrings of the participants. Two major problem areas for sedated office lifestyle tackled. Wonderful!
2. Yoga increases muscle strength and tone
Yoga is not just about flexibility though - it is a great way to increase muscle strength, tone and athletic performance. In Brazil, a recent study found that the practise of yoga improved muscular endurance in the arms and abs among women. In a study conducted at the North Eastern Illinois University, a group of 14 male athletes were made to do yoga twice a week over the course of 10 weeks to see if this resulted in any noticeable changes. Compared with a controlled group of 12 athletes, the results stated that a regular yoga practise may increase flexibility and balance and enhance athletic performances of male college athletes. Looks like yoga strengths both men and women (and we are sure also to pretty much everyone!).
3. Yoga improves respiratory capacity
A large part of yoga is breath-control (Pranayama) and focusing on breathing during yoga practise. A study conducted among coronary artery disease patients found that yoga practise improved lung function and diffusion capacity, which is compromised by disease among such patients. Another study conducted recently in India showed that yoga could improve lung function, decrease respiratory rate, increase vital capacity and breath holding time among people with asthma.
This pic was taken on Tulum beach where www.paradiseretreats.yoga will be hosting Ocean Flow Yoga Retreat - March 26 - 2 April.
4. Yoga helps with weight loss
Contrary to what some say, yoga is a great form of weight loss. You can work up quite a sweat in yoga; just go to a Bikram or Ashtanga yoga class and see! Yoga is an approachable form of exercise, and can be done by all no matter shape, size, gender or age. Yoga poses work on the endocrine glands, improve blood circulation and improve the body’s metabolism therefore helping weight management and weight loss.
5. Yoga benefits the circulatory system
Yoga improves the cardio and circulatory system. It improves the oxygen transmission throughout the body. A recent study conducted among burn victims showed that cardio vascular system in burn victims effectively improved with 60 minutes of yoga practise.
6. Yoga boosts immunity
Regularly practising yoga can help improve body immunity as well. Regular yoga practise has been shown to improve antioxidant levels of the body. Yoga also regulates the release of stress hormones and improves immune function.
7. Yoga protects from injury and relieves aches and pains
Yoga is a gentle form of exercise. Two recent studies conducted among adults with arthritis showed that yoga reduced pain, stiffness and enhanced physical activity levels. In addition, yoga is a good way to safely increase physical activity and improve physical and psychological health.
8. Yoga improves sleep
Yoga is useful even when we're not aware of it... like when we're asleep for instance! Doing yoga can improve our sleep cycle. Cancer patients who suffered from insomnia were made to do yoga to determine whether it could improve their quality of sleep. There was a significant improvement of quality of sleep among the participants of the study, showing that yoga can effectively improve the quality of sleep. Another study conducted among nurses found that practising yoga improved sleep and reduced work stress as well.
9. Yoga regulates hormones
Yoga can regulate hormonal levels in the body. A recent study found that yoga can be used as a way to regulate the endocrine system among people with diabetes. Yoga can help regulate cortisol levels, oxygen intake and improves body composition.
10. Yoga regulates the immune system
With all the benefits yoga has on the physical body, it also improves the body’s immunity. A study conducted in Korea found that regular yoga practise had a positive effect on the immune system of the participants.
(B) Mental Benefits of Yoga
11. Yoga helps to manage stress
Mindfulness and meditation are a vital component of yoga. These are beneficial in managing stress. A recent study conducted among Mental Health Professionals sought to show that yoga can be used to manage work-related stress. There was a significant reduction in work-related stress among the participants who practised yoga.
12. Yoga improves concentration
During yoga, the focus on breath and the body are important, thus working out those concentration muscles! Other yoga benefits that contribute to improved concentration are improved oxygen intake, better blood flow and regulated stress and hormone levels.
13. Yoga balances the emotional state
As yoga helps manage stress, it is also beneficial to maintaining a balanced emotional state. An interesting study conducted in India found that yoga can also be beneficial for patients who are suffering psychosomatic disorders. The practise of yoga for over three months showed a decrease in patients' reliance on medicines for psychosomatic symptoms.
(C) Spiritual Yoga Benefits
14. Yoga provides peace of mind
The practise of yoga helps to manage stress, our emotional state and makes us feel calmer. As it also regulates hormones, quality of sleep is greatly increased, contributing to enhanced peace of mind.
15. Yoga improves self-esteem
Yoga is a progressive form of exercise. The more we practise, the better we get, and the more we are able to challenge ourselves. Yoga teaches us to understand ourselves and this can improve confidence. Once you finally nail a pose you've been trying for ages, you'll feel like a million bucks!
16. Yoga can benefit relationships
Practising yoga helps achieve equilibrium in our physical and mental state. This balance and peace of mind can effect the interaction with people around us, thus benefiting our relationships with people. Who needs therapy when you have yoga, right?
17. Yoga enables body healing through the mind’s eye
Focus is a prominent aspect of yoga. In yoga, we are encouraged to acknowledge, be aware of, and get to know our body. As we have seen, yoga is beneficial to the physical healing and regulation of the body which is enhanced by the focus with which we practise yoga.https://instagram.com/p/_WHJ4lMP_e/
Yoga is a unique and accessible form of exercise which can be for beginners, and can progressively get more challenging for more advanced practitioners, and with all these great benefits, what's stopping you from trying it? Come on, get on your mat!
Do you love yoga as much as we do? Do you feel yoga has benefitted you in ways that we didn't mention above? We'd love to hear from you!