Yoga is much more than just the latest health trend and was actually developed between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago, according to Yoga Basics. There are several reasons for its long history and increasing popularity – which range from its ability to encourage a better night’s sleep to tackling anxiety. Yoga can be a gentle way of getting back into exercise after an injury and a fantastic way to wind down after a hard day in the office.
A recent news article by Daily Mail reveals that yoga is the reason 73-year-old yoga instructor Barbara Currie has maintained a youthful appearance, high levels of fitness and incredible posture. Currie has been practicing yoga since she was 29 and believes that back stretches in particular are a great way to improve your posture and defy your body’s natural aging process – preventing that common stoop pose that older people often suffer from.
There are many benefits to yoga, but if you’re thinking of starting to practice it for the first time, you might be feeling a little daunted. Yoga is actually relatively simple, and the health benefits are numerous – almost everyone can achieve an improvement in their health and well-being by taking up yoga.
Physical benefits of yoga
According to Yoga Journal many researchers are now accepting that yoga can improve many different health conditions and generally improve your lifestyle. The physical benefits and gentle nature of yoga make it great for almost everyone, no matter what your age or fitness level.
Improved posture, flexibility and muscle strength
First and foremost, yoga loosens your muscles and improves flexibility in both your muscles and connective tissue, while also building your strength as you balance in poses that work your muscles. The combination of strength and flexibility leads to an improvement in your posture and can alleviate joint pain and other general aches that you suffer from as a result of poor posture in your everyday life.
Prevents breakdown of cartilage
Yoga utilizes the full range of motion of your joints, which can help prevent degenerative arthritis and improve movement. The cartilage in your joints and spinal disks are shock absorbers that act like a sponge – only taking in fresh nutrients after fluid is forced or “squeezed” out. If you neglect certain areas, your cartilage can start to become less supple and eventually wear out.
Increased blood flow and lymphatic drainage
Yoga relaxation exercises improve your circulation, which in turn provides more oxygen to your cells and tissues. The twisting and inverted poses are particularly good at moving venous blood from internal organs and improving your lymphatic drainage, which helps your body fight infection and dispose of waste products.
Mind benefits of yoga
Yoga has recently been found to provide therapeutic relief for sufferers of anxiety and may help regulate fluctuating mood patterns and anxiety attacks. Hatha yoga can be particularly helpful, as it works to remind you to release emotions and feelings that have a negative effect on our mental health.
Meanwhile, pranayama yoga encourages you to really focus on your breathing, which can help you relax, meditate and connect with your respiratory system. Yoga has been proven to improve the symptoms of depression and provide a significant increase in your serotonin levels while decreasing your stress hormone, cortisol.
According to Yoga Journal, practicing yoga can also help you focus, solve problems and remember information, while also improving your coordination and reaction times. This is thought to be because yoga helps you regain control of your thoughts, preventing negative or anxious thoughts from dominating your thought process and allowing you to concentrate better.
Yoga has a great many benefits and the increasing number of studies that provide insight into the ways that yoga improves your health and well-being indicate that it will continue to be popular for many years to come.