Words: Victoria Mcewan
If you’ve ever needed that push to try yoga, or fall back into an old habit, this is the list for you. The Bhagavad Gita suggested that ‘Yoga is a state of equilibrium and equanimity. Yoga is not just a set of exercises that keeps the body fit, it is a passport to health insurance.’ So why is it one of the best forms of exercise, and why is it so beneficial?
You become more flexible
As you progress with yoga, certain asanas which once seemed impossible will become possible due to your bodies increased flexibility. Your hips will become aligned and your hamstrings will loosen which will eliminate bodily aches and pains and improve your posture.
Your muscles strengthen
Not only does yoga tone your muscles but the increased muscle strength helps protect us from arthritis and back pain. Yoga is more beneficial than just going to the gym as it combines muscle toning and flexibility, at the gym when you lift weights, you increase your strength at the expense of flexibility.
It helps your body to remain youthful
Every time we do yoga, the numerous asanas we practice mean we take our joints on a journey of motion. This helps to ‘massage’ the body internally and squeezes our joints, helping to prevent degenerative arthritis and lessen the chances of disability by giving joint cartilage attention.
It improves blood flow
Yoga is a good tool for helping circulation. By boosting our heart rate our cells receive more oxygen and asanas which involve twists are proven to flush out venous blood from our organs to allow fresh, oxygenated blood to flow in. This increased blood flow also means that our chances of blood clots are decreased through boosted levels of haemoglobin, thus helping to prevent heart-attacks and strokes.
Yoga helps your body to fight illness
The constant movement of yoga and the numerous poses means the drainage of lymph (a fluid rich in immune cells) in our bodies increases, helping to detoxify our bodies, fight infection and destroy cancerous cells. Yoga also lowers cortisol (the stress hormone) levels, excessively high levels of cortisol can create permanent changes in the brain and are a cause of major depression, and can lead to osteoporosis by extracting calcium and other vital minerals from bones.
It increases happiness
It has been proven that Yoga increases our levels of serotonin and decreases cortisol. Dr Richard Davidson, a professor at the University Of Wisconsin, found that the prefrontal cortex in our brains showed heightened activity in people who practise yoga regularly, correlating with greater levels of happiness and better immune function.
It brings relaxation
Yoga isn’t just a sport, it’s a way of life which focuses on being in the present moment. When we participate in yoga we slow our breath and relax, shifting our balance to the parasympathetic nervous system which lowers heart rates, decreases blood pressure and increases blood flow to our intestines and reproductive organs, taking pressure off our sympathetic nervous system.
You learn to fight stress
Stress is an exasperater of so many conditions in the human body. Stress feeds illnesses like IBS, eczema, ulcers and insomnia. Yoga can combat stress by calming the mind and diminishing mental loops of frustration, fear, anxiety and regret, it works as a form of meditation. Regular yoga practise has been known to help with insomnia and sufferers of psoriasis and eczema.
Yoga boosts your confidence
As yoga clears our mind, it impacts our focus and self confidence as it enables us to become clear about our personal goals. Combined with the other benefactors of yoga; relieved stress, body detoxification and strengthened muscles ultimately lead to increased self confidence and peace of mind.