Chances are you have heard friends talking about yoga. The fitness lifestyle is tremendously popular — and growing every day. Perhaps you’ve thought about attending a class. Go for it! Making yoga part of your regular routine will yield a wide array of physical and mental health benefits.
Yoga can ease pain. Studies have illustrated that practicing yoga can effectively reduce pain levels associated with auto-immune diseases, certain types of cancer, multiple sclerosis, hypertension, arthritis and other chronic conditions.
Yoga involves deep, slow breathing that promotes a connection between the inner and outer body. Practicing this type of breathing can improve lung function, increase the amount of oxygen entering the bloodstream and trigger the body’s relaxation response.
Practicing yoga will increase your range of motion, improve flexibility, heighten mobility and effectively reduce recurring aches and pains. During their first yoga class, most people can’t touch their toes. However, as they continue to practice, ligaments, tendons and muscles will lengthen. This increased elasticity will gradually stimulate flexibility, making more poses possible. Yoga also promotes good posture, which benefits body alignment and can help relieve back, neck, joint and muscle problems that you encounter on the job or at home.
Yoga can benefit weight control by reducing cortisol levels, burning excess calories and boosting metabolic activity. Providing a heightened sense of self and overall well-being, yoga has a direct correlation with healthful eating habits.
Improved Circulation & Cardiovascular Conditioning
Through various poses, yoga results in improved circulation, enhancing the efficiency in which oxygenated blood reaches cells. Similarly, yoga provides cardiovascular benefits by lowering resting heart rate and improving oxygen intake during exertion.
Yoga combats the physical effects of stress on the body. Through encouraged relaxation, yoga can lower levels of stress-inducing hormones. Related benefits include lowering blood pressure and decreasing symptoms of anxiety, depression, fatigue, asthma and insomnia.
Yoga places emphasis on a mindset of being present, as opposed to living in the past or wondering about tomorrow. Gradually, this state-of-being will bring increased awareness, cultivating a connection between the mind and body, improving concentration, coordination and memory retention.
Yoga’s meditative aspects can result in a deepened sense of spirituality and overall satisfaction. This is often one of the benefits most commonly reported when people are asked why they practice yoga.
Yoga classes are available at most local gyms. You can also buy or rent instructional DVDs that let you practice in the comfort of your own home. Many first-timers take this approach as a no-pressure way to get comfortable with yoga. Regardless of your approach, take it slow to avoid injury.