Yoga is a physical and spiritual discipline that we’ve all heard of. You’ve probably done yoga at least once in your life, or you might be one of the 2.18 million Australians who participated in yoga activities in 2017. If you haven’t made yoga a part of your wellness routine, you’re missing out on a variety of health benefits. Yoga isn’t just for fit stay-at-home moms – it’s for everyone, regardless of your age, sex, or physical limitations.
So, what are these health benefits of doing yoga?
1 – Increased Flexibility
Yoga routines involve holding poses that strengthen your muscles. After just eight weeks of practising yoga regularly, some people found a 35% increase in their flexibility! Any level of yoga can improve your flexibility, since you’re still holding the poses for several inhalations and exhalations.
2 – Improved Heart Health
Although most people associate heart health with exercises that increase your heart rate (like cardio), yoga also has heart health benefits. That’s because yoga helps you relax.
When we’re stressed, our bodies release cortisol and adrenaline, which lead to higher blood pressure. Stress does all sorts of things to our bodies, so anything that helps us cut back on stressors improves our physical health. With heart disease being a cause for early death in so many people, why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of yoga for heart health?
3 – Lessened Symptoms of PTSD
Studies have shown that yoga is incredibly helpful for those with post-traumatic stress disorder. In a study amongst women diagnosed with PTSD, 52% of those who practiced yoga twice weekly for 10 weeks no longer met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD. This finding is incredible, since it’s a holistic alternative for those who can’t afford intensive therapy.
4 – Lower Chances of Joint Breakdown
Yoga poses move your joints through their full range of motion, which can help prevent arthritis. By squeezing cartilage that normally isn’t used, you’re strengthening your joints. 1 in 6 Australians suffer from arthritis, but you can improve your odds of retaining your joint health by doing yoga regularly!
5 – Stronger Lymph Node Health
Practicing yoga regularly can keep you from getting sick! When lymph nodes don’t drain properly, toxins build up, which then leads to swelling in the limbs and swollen tonsils.
Yoga helps your body to drain your lymph nodes. Yoga poses require you to contract and relax your muscles, which forces fluid through the lymph channels. Anyone who’s had swollen lymph nodes knows how uncomfortable it can be, and they’d agree that it’s best to keep that from happening.
6 – Increased Happiness
Many spiritual activities can improve your mental health, but yoga has been proven to do so. A researcher from the University of Wisconsin found that those who meditate had more activity in the left prefrontal cortex of their brain. Heightened activity in the left prefrontal cortex has been linked to greater levels of happiness.
Based on these findings, the most effective poses for improving your mental health are the ones that are focused on relaxation. Try sitting in Lotus or practice the King Dancer pose as part of your yoga routine.
7 – Easier Diabetes Management
Diabetes is a common, chronic condition that can be time-consuming to manage. Yoga can make life with diabetes a little bit easier by lowering your blood glucose levels, according to John Hopkins Medicine.
Certain yoga poses are more beneficial than others for managing diabetes. The seated forward bend, “legs climbing up the wall” pose, and supported shoulder stand are all effective for lowering your blood glucose. Stay one step (or one pose) ahead of your diabetes with regular yoga practice!
8 – Increased IQ
Did you know that doing yoga can make you smarter? That’s right – one major health benefit of yoga is improved brain function! A study showed that those who meditate can increase their IQ by 23%. That’s an incredible jump!
Yoga requires focus, and practicing your focusing skills gives your brain the rest it needs to improve your IQ score. Incorporate meditative yoga poses into your routine to see these intellectual benefits.
9 – Better Sleep
Certain yoga practices can improve your quality of sleep, like asana, pranayama, and yoga nidra.
They do this by encouraging the nervous system to take some downtime, which in turn helps you fall asleep. Studies also show that your quality of sleep improves with yoga, not just the quantity. With 75% of Australians drinking at least one cup of coffee a day, we know we’re not getting enough quality sleep. Let yoga be a solution for you!
10 – Improved Lung Function
Those who suffer from breathing issues can benefit greatly from practicing yoga. Those who practice asana and pranayama for 90 minutes a day over the course of 10 weeks can experience improved lung capacity.
For those who have asthma, practicing yoga for 5 days a week for 8 weeks has been shown to drastically improve lung function and an asthmatics health. Whether breathing comes easy to you or not, yoga can help you breathe easier!
Yoga is a great way to relax, and adding it to your wellness routine has many benefits. Check out your local yoga studio to start this healthy habit!