Dr. Sharman’s Musings

health benefits of yoga

10 Wonderful Ways Yoga Improves Your Health

Have you noticed how good you feel after practicing yoga? Your whole body and mind are completely relaxed. Not only does it make you feel good, but there are many health benefits of yoga.

I love yoga because it’s all about living – and practicing – your best life. It’s a total mind-body workout that combines strengthening and stretching with deep breathing and meditation. So it’s an effective way to stay healthy and happy – every day.

Did you know yoga has been around for more than 5,000 years and there are more than 100 different forms? Some are face-paced and intense. Others are gentle and relaxing. There’s a good reason that more than 20 million Americans practice yoga.

If you’re new to yoga, I encourage you to start slowly and build. I think you’ll be amazed at the effects regular practice will have on your body and mind.

If you practice regularly, you’ve probably noticed the many health benefits of yoga, including sleeping better, getting fewer colds and just feeling more relaxed and less stressed.

Here are 10 health benefits of yoga that you need to know:

1. Reduces stress

Aside from the physical benefits, one of the best benefits of yoga is how it helps you manage stress. Stress can reveal itself in many ways, including back or neck pain, sleeping problems, headaches, drug abuse, and an inability to concentrate. Yoga can be very effective in developing coping skills and reaching a more positive outlook on life.

health benefits of yoga2. Helps you sleep better

Researchers from Harvard found that eight weeks of daily yoga significantly improved sleep quality for people with insomnia. Because yoga helps you relax and deal with stress, it allows you to sleep with less anxiety. Breathing and exercise allow the mind to slow down in order to sleep better.

3. Boosts immunity

Norwegian study found that yoga practice results in changes in genes that boost immunity. The changes in the yoga participants were significantly greater than a control group who went on a nature hike while listening to soothing music. By increasing overall health, yoga also helps to boost immunity. As you breathe better, move better and circulate better, all organs function better.

4. Fights food cravings

By creating awareness, regular yoga practice strengthens the mind-body connection. This awareness can help you tune in to emotions involved with certain cravings, and yoga breathing exercises can help you slow down and make better choices when cravings strike. Researchers from the University of Washington found that regular yoga practice is associated with mindful eating.

5. Decreases pain

The relaxation techniques incorporated in yoga can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome. As you practice and gain strength and flexibility, aches and pains will start to disappear.

6. Improves flexibility

At first, you probably won’t be able to touch your toes. But if you stick with it, you’ll notice a gradual loosening, and eventually, seemingly impossible poses will become possible. Improved flexibility will decrease pain, improve posture and help prevent injury.

7. Perfects posture

When your heavy head – think bowling ball – is directly over an erect spine, it takes much less work for your neck and back muscles to support it. Poor posture can cause back, neck, and other muscle and joint problems. Yoga helps align your head and body.

RELATEDWhy You Should Be Improving Your Back Posture

8. Builds muscle strength

Strong muscles protect us from conditions like arthritis and back pain, and help prevent falls in elderly people. And when you build strength through yoga, you balance it with flexibility. If you just went to the gym and lifted weights, you might build strength at the expense of flexibility.

9. Protects your spine

Moving helps your spinal disks – the shock absorbers between vertebrae – get the nutrients they need. So a well-balanced practice with plenty of bends and twists keeps your disks supple which improves your overall health.

10. Creates better bone health

Weight-bearing exercise strengthens bones and helps ward off osteoporosis. Many postures in yoga require that you lift your own weight. Downward- and Upward-Facing Dog help strengthen arms bones that are particularly vulnerable to fractures.

There are many yoga videos on YouTube. Here’s one to get you started:

Remember, the purpose of yoga is to create strength, awareness and harmony in both body and mind. By simply practicing, you’ll gain the many health benefits of yoga. Want to learn more? Just ask me the next time you’re at our office … and let me know how yoga helps you.

Dr. Sharman

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