Yoga is generally misunderstood as a series of twisting, and bending postures. Yoga asanas are just a small part of this ancient science. Rooted from the Sanskrit word” Yuj” which means union, a humble union of mind, body, and soul through the power of breath. It is not only beneficial for your physical and mental health but also for your spiritual wellbeing. Since bhakti-yoga is one of the most followed paths for spiritual development, especially in India.
21st June 2022 marks an international yoga day that celebrates all the physical and mental benefits of yoga brings to the table across the globe. International Yoga Day 2022 is a day when millions of people join together to practice yoga. If you are a beginner, even practicing 10 minutes of morning yoga can be beneficial for your overall well-being.
Here are some important science-based benefits of yoga
1. It improves flexibility
Many people include yoga in their fitness routine to improve their flexibility. Regular movement while practicing yoga leads to stretching and lengthening of muscles that reduces the stiffening of the joints. Stretching your body in new ways also increases the greater range of motion. Our muscles become stiff as we get older and since most people are confined to a desk job that can make our muscles immobile, which can lead to muscle pain. Regular stretching helps with muscle soreness and helps in gaining flexibility in your back, shoulder, and neck muscles.
2. Eases the pain in the lower back and arthritis
Regular practice of yoga is beneficial in reducing pain, whether it is chronic lower back pain. Prolonged sitting hours and bad posture can create havoc on the muscles of the back that can lead to chronic back pain. If you are someone suffering from lower back pain then practicing yoga for lower back pain might be beneficial for you. Yoga poses like cat-cow and child pose helps in stretching and lengthening of spine hence good for spinal health.
Also, movement in yoga is low impact which increases the mobility of the joints without further injuring them. It strengthens the muscles around the joints, hence great for your bone health. People suffering from arthritis find great relief in yoga.
3. Good for heart health
Studies have shown that practicing yoga benefits your heart health (study 1) by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart rate like any conventional exercise such as walking. Yoga incorporates deep breathing exercises that affect the vagus nerve that deals with the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system promotes relaxation and lower heart rate- improving the functioning of the heart.
4. Improves breathing
Breathwork in yoga holds a very special place. Most of us are accustomed to shallow breathing and really don’t give a thought to it. Yoga incorporates a deep breathing exercise called pranayama that teaches us to take a deep diaphragmatic breath which is beneficial for the entire body. The benefits of yoga pranayama are immense for physical and mental health both on and off the mat. Deeper diaphragmatic breathing improves the capacity of the lungs. Kapalbhati pranayama helps in clearing nasal passages and the practice of ujjayi breath has a calming effect on the nervous system.
5. It may help you in losing weight
If you think that only conventional cardio and gymming can help you in losing weight, then you might be wrong. Most people think that the benefits of yoga are limited to reducing stress and anxiety. Studies have shown that yoga styles (research 2) such as Iyengar, Bikram, and ashtanga vinyasa yoga are very effective when it comes to losing weight due to their aerobic nature. Sun salutation, bow pose, warrior 1 are popular. People who practice yoga tend to eat mindfully, which promotes healthy eating habits that further help in losing weight, controlling blood sugar, and dealing with binge eating disorders.
6. Beneficial in controlling diabetes
The regular practice of yoga help in controlling the symptoms of diabetes. Yoga increases digestive fire, which is agni, which aids digestion in the body. Studies have shown that regular practice of yoga, pranayama lowers the blood sugar level, bad cholesterol. It increases insulin sensitivity in the body, which further regulates blood sugar levels (research 3). People suffering from diabetes who practice yoga have shown significant improvements in their diabetes and overall wellbeing.
7. Stress management
Yoga has been known for its stress-relieving properties for ages. Regular practice of yoga lowers the secretion of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Yoga incorporates movement with breathing exercises that allow you to take a slower and deeper breath through your nose, which has a calming effect on the nervous system. It regulates the parasympathetic nervous system which promotes relaxation. Most yoga incorporates meditation which promotes mind-body connection, enhances stress management ability, and makes you feel more positive.
8. Improve sleep
If you struggling with sleep issues then turning to yoga can be your best bait. Poor sleep can result in high blood pressure, anxiety and obesity. Deep breathing exercise in yoga reduces stress and anxiety that helps you to relax and sleep peacefully after a long tiring day. It regulates the secretion of melatonin hormone which is a sleep-inducing hormone. Also, studies have shown that the practice of yoga Nidra is immensely beneficial for people who are suffering from insomnia. It not only helps them to sleep but also significantly improves their quality of sleep (research 4).
9. Great for mental health
Practicing yoga asana is immensely beneficial in bringing calmness to your mind. While moving through asana, one has to be focused on the breathing that keeps them present at the moment. It brings immense calmness to their mind. Yoga teaches you to breathe in difficult situations and stay in the present moment, which is great for your mental health. Yoga has a very positive impact on people suffering from depression (research 5). It has an amazing mood-boosting effect. All you need is to surrender to the mat. Yoga poses such as leg up the wall and savasana have amazing relaxing properties.
10. It boosts confidence
Now it can be a little surprising, but yes, yoga helps in building confidence. It improves your mind-body connection and teaches you to be in touch with your body. It keeps you focused on the present moment and aware of subtle changes in your body. You learn of any negative thought patterns and calm them with deep breathing. It teaches you to feel safe in your body, let go of every insecurity, and accept it with its flaws. And when you are comfortable in your own body, it boosts your confidence (research 6).
Who doesn’t want a life full of health, prosperity, and peace, people will do anything to live a beautiful life but the secret to happiness lies in small things and habits repeated day in and day out which ultimately change us to become better, Yoga is one such life-changing practice, few minutes devoted to yoga can fill your life with joy and mindfulness. So why wait any further? Start yoga, stay happy.