10 Benefits of Yoga
Updated: Feb 9
Yoga holds many health and wellbeing benefits and including Yoga into your weekly routine can have so many fantastic outcomes. The positive effects of practising Yoga don't only benefit us physically, but also it can support us emotionally and mentally.
Everyone can receive the benefits of Yoga and in many different ways, whether you have an illness, limited movement, or fully active; Yoga can offer something for everyone and below are 10 benefits of Yoga and what you can expect to experience with a regular Yoga practise.
1. REDUCES STRESS
Without a doubt, a huge benefit of Yoga is that it can reduce stress levels. As we perform asanas and connect to our breath through our Yoga practice, it directly affects the nervous system.
Through our Yoga practise, we begin to encourage the body to move into the relaxation response controlled by the parasympathetic nervous system rather than the body functioning in fight and flight mode controlled by the sympathetic nervous system. When the body moves into the relaxation response, it begins to do many positive things such as slowing down the heart rate, increase the gland function and ultimately encouraging the body and mind to reduce and release stress.
2. IMPROVES BREATHING
Throughout our Yoga practise, we become more aware of our breathing and perform breathing exercises that make us conscious breathers which is an essential part of the Yoga practice. Yoga teaches us that our breath is a manifestation of our vital energy and allows us to be in this world. One fantastic benefit of Yoga is that we learn about our breath, how we breath and enhance and improve our breathing due to Yoga.
"Breathing is a direct means of absorbing prana (life force/energy) and the manner in which we breath sets off pranic vibrations which influence our entire being." swami Muktibodhananda.
3. LOWERS BLOOD PRESSURE
Trials show that those who do a Yoga practice three times a week and include breathing and relaxation have lower blood pressure!
"Researchers analyzed data from 49 trials with a total of 3,517 participants who were typically middle-aged, overweight women and men who already had high blood pressure or were close to developing the condition [....] When people with high blood pressure did yoga three times a week in sessions that also included breathing and relaxation exercises; they experienced average decreases of 11 mmHG more than control groups in systolic blood pressure and 6 mmHG more in diastolic blood pressure." https://www.reuters.com/
4. IMPROVES FLEXIBILITY
As we move the body in a range of motion, we increase flexibility; we receive huge benefits from regular Yoga practice. When we move the body into a Yoga asana, the muscles are either contracting (agonist) or releasing and elongating (antagonist). Every stretch we can increase the range of motion within the muscle fibres allows them to become more flexible over time and with patience.
"Experts say that flexibility and suppleness are within the grasp of most people with just a small amount of effort and commitment." The Dancer's Body, BBC
5. IMPROVES STRENGTH
Without a doubt, Yoga practice has the benefits of improving our overall strength. When we arrive at a Yoga posture, we work with different muscle groups and strengthen our resilience. Many poses are active and require our ability to hold them for several breaths; for example, a downward-facing dog posture uses many muscles throughout the body and strengthens the upper body and the lower. A regular practice will create strength within the core, legs, arms, shoulders, and many other body areas.
6. ENHANCES THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
Doing a regular Yoga practise that includes asana, pranayama, and relaxation will help reduce stress levels within the body and the mind. Stress is known to be one of the culprits of a weakened immune system.
"Stress responses increase strain upon circulatory system due to increased heart rate etc. Stress can also affect the immune system by raising blood pressure." https://www.simplypsychology.org/
When performing the asanas and the pranayama we are also offering the body a cleaning system, we can help move the lymphatic system to rid toxins and eliminate unwanted waste and stresses within the body. When the body and the mind have the right setting to become clear and vibrant, the immunity will become stronger.
7. IMPROVES CONCENTRATION AND FOCUS
All postures require focus as we move in and out of them, this allows the mind to strengthen its concentration and focus levels not only on the mat but also when we are off the mat. Yoga begins to train the mind to let go of unwanted thoughts, worries and distractions, encouraging us to be in the present moment, the only moment we truly have!
8. HELPS DIGESTION
Many of the beautiful poses performed in Yoga benefit the digestion due to the gentle massaging action and the internal heat and cleansing kriyas performed, which increases 'Agni' (Agni converts food into energy). As we move into Yoga postures, we encourage the body to open up on a deeper energetic level stimulating and bringing balance and harmony into the functioning of the organs, meridians and body as a whole.
"According to medical scientists, yoga therapy is successful because of the balance created in the nervous and endocrine system which directly influences all the other systems and organs of the body" Swami Satyananda Saraswati.
9. INCREASES BALANCE
A benefit of Yoga is the increase and improvement of balance. As we work through postures, we transition, flow, or hold poses statically; it requires balance and strength. Over time the balance gets better, and increases and this can improve our balance not only on the mat but off the mat in day to day activities. Balance can come in many ways; it can be on the mat by balancing on one leg, balancing the left and the right sides of the body, balancing of the energies Yin and Yang. But what we learn on the mat can be explored and taken off the mat into finding balancing within our lifestyle; rest and play, what we eat and drink. Balance is essential in all aspects of our life, and a considerable benefit of Yoga is it helps us increase balance in an overall way.
"Yoga is a means of balancing and harmonising the body, mind and emotions." Swami Satyananda Saraswati
10. INCREASES ENERGY AND VITALITY
Increased energy and vitality is an excellent benefit of a regular Yoga practice; it really can increase your energy and vitality. Yoga postures open the body and release any blocked energy that may be stagnant. As you breathe deeply, you draw pure fresh energy/oxygen/prana into the body; into areas of the body that may feel tight or hold tenstion. The overall effects of a Yoga practice can have different outcomes which depends on the class plan. Still, overall your body will receive more energy and vitality even if you are feeling very relaxed.