We all know that yoga is great for our mental and physical health. Hitting the yoga mat at least once per week can have a number of benefits including reduced stress levels, improved fitness, and even a longer lifespan. In this article, we explore the yoga impact on our health in more detail.
Practising yoga regularly will help to stretch and tone your muscles. Certain poses, such as plank pose, target multiple muscles groups for great, all-around results. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be super flexible to use yoga. The great thing about the exercise is that it can be used by all abilities. After a few weeks of regular practice, you’ll start to feel the difference in your flexibility, strength, and even your posture. This is particularly beneficial if you’re sitting in front of a desk all day.
If you’re not a fan of high-intensity exercise, yoga is a great way to improve your fitness levels. When used correctly, yoga can improve your fitness in a peaceful, safe, and holistic way. Instead of using weights to build strength, yoga uses your body weight as resistance. This means that all you need to work out is yourself! The practice combines cardio, functional, and strength training into one workout that can be practised at your own pace. Better still, you can practice from the comfort of your own home!
If you’re hoping to lose weight, practice yoga a few times each week. If you want to lose weight quickly, a dynamic yoga style like vinyasa flow is your best bet. Combining cardio with traditional yoga, this style is guaranteed to get your heart pumping. Another great option is hot yoga. Practised in a heated studio, hot yoga is designed to induce a sweat. In addition to burning calories, hot yoga releases toxins to cleanse the body.
If you prefer a less intense yoga style, that’s fine! You don’t have to practice dynamic or hot yoga to lose weight. A traditional yoga sequence will fuel the metabolic system and help you to burn fat, leading to gradual weight loss. Yoga can also help to balance your hormones, which can normalise your body weight.
Practising yoga for as little as 5 minutes can give you a much-needed energy boost. With this in mind, many people practice before heading off to work or even for a few minutes during their lunch break. Whenever your reserves are running low, an asana or some mindful breathing can leave you feeling refreshed and recharged.
Yoga can also balance the main energy centres in our body, called the chakras. Great asanas for extra energy are those that stretch the spine, such as Tree Pose. This posture allows energy to flow through the whole body and nourish the organs with oxygen-rich blood. Chest opening poses, like Cobra Pose, are also beneficial for energy levels; as we open the chest, our body is encouraged to take in more breath.
Research shows that yoga can reduce stress levels. So much so, many workplaces offer lunchtime yoga classes to improve the health and wellbeing of their employees. For best results, practice a yoga sequence with three elements: postures, breathing, and meditation. Studies have shown that using all three elements is the best way to regulate your heart-rate variability. Essentially, this means that your heart rate will be lower, allowing the body to respond to stress in a more efficient way.
When stressed, some people find it hard to sleep. Thankfully, daily yoga can reduce and even prevent insomnia, allowing you to wake up feeling refreshed, recharged, and ready to tackle the day ahead. If you are suffering from insomnia, practice restorative yoga poses such as Child’s Pose. This type of asana will calm both the body and mind ready for a good nights sleep.
Correct breathing, or Pranayama, is an essential part of any yoga practice. Yogic breathing techniques slow the breath and encourage you to breathe fully from the bottom of your stomach to the top of your lungs. Pranayama can help you to feel more relaxed and balanced, allowing you to take on the day feeling calm and confident. Yogic breathing also has some great side benefits including more tidal volume and increased lung capacity. Once you’ve learnt how to breathe correctly, you can use the techniques whenever you need them. Deep breathing can help you to stay calm in stressful situations, increase concentration, and even reduce pain.
Daily yoga can increase both your happiness and emotional strength. According to a recent study, practising regular yoga and meditation can increase your serotonin levels – a hormone that’s often referred to as the ‘happiness hormone’. The study also showed that long-term yogis have more mass in the area of the brain associated with contentment. Another study showed that our gamma-aminobutyric levels are higher after using yoga. As higher GABA levels are associated with lower levels of depression and anxiety, practising yoga for a few minutes each day can have a drastic effect on your mental health.
Mindfulness is essential for good mental health. Through yoga, you learn to shift your awareness to the thoughts, sensations, and emotions that come with a certain pose. That awareness, or mindfulness, will bring your mind back to the present moment. Practising mindfulness can have a number of lasting physical and psychologic benefits. Almost instantly, you’ll feel calm and relaxed with less stress and anxiety. You may also experience a boost of energy and feel more self-confident.
As you know, regular yoga practice can increase your level of fitness, regulate your heart rate, and make you a happier person. When combined, all those elements can add valuable years to your lifespan. Yoga also decreases the risk of heart disease and reduces the pace of your breathing. Interestingly, both of these things are associated with a longer life expectancy. In summary, the yoga impact on your health is 100% positive. Not only can wearing your yoga top daily benefit your mental health, but it can also help you to live a long and happy life.