Sweeping phrases such as “The Benefits of Yoga” or “Ten Reasons Yoga Can Change Your Life” are far too vast for a single post; almost too vast for an entire book. Delving deeply into the many ways that yoga can change a person’s mind and body takes time and understanding.
It’s easy to throw the idea out there that yoga can reduce anxiety, stretch muscles, calm minds, improve circulation, tone muscles, and improve overall health – but these benefits, when broken down and absorbed with deeper understanding, truly give yoga the recognition it deserves.
Most people know that yoga is a gentle exercise infused with calm guidance, soft music, and deep breathing – so for now, we want to focus on some things that you may not know…like the internal, less understood benefits of yoga.
One: Practicing yoga can boost the body’s immunity. In an article that came out last year in Psychology Today, “Psychological stress can impact many systems in the body, including weakening the immune system and increasing chronic inflammation.”
With a focus on calming the mind, yoga – if practiced on a regular basis – can help with chronic stress brought on by day to day life. Keeping work, kids, spouses, schedules, appointments, commitments, and routines in alignment can cause an underlying level of stress that can weaken our immune systems, and yoga can keep our stress management in check.
It can lower stress hormones, boost the nervous system, and stimulate the lymphatic system (which removes toxins from the body).
Two: Yoga can better the bones. Two of the most common yoga poses – Upward and Downward-facing dog – requires lifting your own weight, which naturally strengthens the arm muscles. According to an unpublished study conducted at California State University, Los Angeles, “Yoga practice increased bone density in the vertebrae. Yoga's ability to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol may help keep calcium in the bones.”
As a weight-bearing exercise, yoga lengthens muscles and holds them there during poses, creating tension on the bone and ultimately improvement of bone strength.
Three: Yoga improves circulation. Focusing on proper breathing during a yoga session increases oxygen-rich blood flow. If you consider all the moves in yoga – standing, relaxing, even head-down poses, there are many ways to keep the blood flowing.
An increase level of oxygen in the body helps brain function, as well as the functions of other internal organs, which can benefit the body in many ways. So when you consider the steady, intent-driven breathing that yoga promotes, it’s easy to see how doing so keeps the internal organs at optimal health.
These three benefits of yoga barely skim the surface of what yoga is capable of doing for the human body. While it promotes a healthy connection between mind, body, and soul, yoga also plays a very important role in the physical health of our internal bodies (more surprising benefits to come in future posts, so stay tuned…)