I started doing yoga a few years ago at a local studio, and recently became a certified Yoga Teacher. I always feel restored and happy after my sweat sessions on the mat, and that is for a good reason. Not only is it wonderful meditation for your mind and spirit, it is also great exercise.
After yoga or stretching, your mind feels sharper and your body feels better. Listed below are just a few (scientifically proven) reasons why practicing yoga every day helps keep your body and your mind healthy and balanced.
1. Increases muscular strength
It is a known scientific fact that increased muscular strength contributes to cardiovascular health and longevity. This study put 173 adults through a 12-week Hatha Yoga program with 60-minute daily yoga sessions with a yoga instructor. They found that these individuals all showed an improvement in their cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength, balance, and flexibility. Their resting heart rate was also significantly lower at the end of the study. The adults were found to have increased muscle mass and improved strength in weighted exercise tests. This is proof that even though yoga might not come to mind as a cardio or weightlifting exercise, it can have a comparative effect to a HIIT workout or weight training if you practice frequently.
Promotes a healthy heart
Another 6-week long study incorporated both yoga and meditation, finding that the participants had a reduction in stress which led to lower heart rate, greater cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure, and lower BMI.
This proves that yoga alone can increase your heart health.
Combined with other forms of cardio and weight training, the benefits are even more staggering.
Stretching is a key component to any exercise program because your muscles tighten as you use them. If you don’t stretch, the muscles will become tight and shrink in size. Yoga can be categorized as a form of stretching, with the addition of the focus on breathing and controlling the mind. Yoga increases flexibility by pulling the muscles with gentle traction.
In a study of male college athletes, bi-weekly yoga practice was correlated with increased flexibility and balance.
Even infrequent practices can have a lasting effect on your body.
Helps your respiratory system
Yoga has been found to improve your resting breathing pattern.
Practicing breath retention and different styles of breathing improve the proprioception of your own breathing, which stays with you outside of your yoga practice.
Breathing deeply has also been associated with longevity.
Yogic breathing can help you live longer.
Alleviates chronic pain
Whenever I sit for a long period of time, I can feel my back tightening. Our culture is trending toward online work, both in school and in the workplace, so sitting has become a necessary part of most of our lives. Yoga has been amazing for reducing my back pain and loosening up tight muscles.
In a 7-day intensive yoga program, one study found that chronic spinal pain was abated and spinal flexibility was increased in a group of individuals with back pain. This is proof that what I feel every time I stretch is repeatable and backs up the health benefits of yoga as a healthy lifestyle addition.
Practicing yoga can reduce chronic pain and even get rid of the tension that builds daily, no matter what the cause.
Increases quality of life
Because of the focus on mental clarity and purpose, yoga has a calming effect on the mind as well. In a random trial of 10-16 weeks of yoga practices, participants increased their perceived quality of life, decreased their anxiety, and lowered their stress level. When yoga was originally created, it was intended to be an easier form of meditation for those who are too hyperactive to sit for long periods of time. Each yoga pose draws your attention inward, first to your body, and then to your mind.
Yoga will help you see a bigger picture perspective of your own life, allowing you to relax and enjoy your time on Earth.
Go find your mat and settle down for a yoga practice. Your mind and your body with thank you. If you feel called to, book an in person or online private Yin, Vinyasa, and Hatha yoga class with me and connect to yourself while reaping the amazing health benefits of your yoga practice.