- Exercise & Fitness
Yoga-15 reasons to start practicing
The most obvious first benefit of Yoga is improved flexibility. During your first class you probably won’t be able to bend down and touch your toes but gradually you will notice a loosening, and eventually you’ll be able to do poses that you may have thought once impossible.
2. Stronger Muscles
Even though strong muscles look good, more importantly they protect us from debilitating conditions like arthritis, back and neck pain, and also prevent elderly people from taking nasty falls and breaking bones.
3. Supple Joints
Every time you practice Yoga your joints go through a complete range of motions. This will prevent ailments like degenerative disk disease. What happens in the joints is the “soaking and squeezing” of cartilage that is normally not used. Joint cartilage is like a sponge that soaks up fresh nutrients only when the fluid is squeezed and a new supply soaked up. Without the proper sustenance , neglected areas of cartilage will wear out and expose underlying bones….sort of like worn out brake pads on your vehicle.
4. Spine In Check
Did you know that that the disks on our spines crave movement? Without proper movements these disks or shock absorbers between the vertebrae can become herniated and compress nerves. This is the reasons for so many back surgeries that could be avoided. Asana, a yoga practice which has many backbends, twists and, forward bends can help in keeping disks flexible and supple.
5. Increase Blood Flow
The relaxation exercise in yoga helps in circulation, especially in the feet and hands. All of the cells in the body will function as they should because of more oxygen due to Yoga. Inverted poses such as Headstands and Handstands increase the venous blood flow from the legs and pelvic regions back to the heart, where it can be pumped to the lungs to be freshly oxygenated. What this does is prevent swelling in the legs and dramatically reduce heart and kidney problems. Last but not least, Yoga boosts hemoglobin and red blood cell levels, which carry oxygen to tissues.
6. Lymphatic System
When muscles are stretched and contracted and there is movement in organs during Yoga, there is an increase in drainage of the lymph system, which contains fluids full of immune cells which help in fighting infections, destroy cancerous cells and release toxic waste in the body.
7. Blood Pressure
I f you already have high blood pressure you will benefit from Yoga. Several years ago there was a study that was published in the British Journal, “The Lancet”, which showed the effects of the Savasana (Corpse Pose) with simply lying on the couch. After three months, Savasana was responsible for a 26 point drop in Systolic blood pressure (top number), and a 15 point drop in the diastolic blood pressure (bottom number). Furthermore the higher the initial pressure, the bigger the drop.
8. Heart Rate
If you regularly get your heart in the aerobic range, the risk of a heart attack is lowered. Indeed all Yoga is not aerobic but one form of Yoga, Ashtanga can boost your heart into aerobic range.
9. Worry Warts
Adrenal glands secrete cortisol in response to a crisis in our lives. If cortisol levels remain high even after the crisis is over then our immune system can be compromised which can lead to major depression, insulin resistance and high blood pressure. Yoga exercise lowers cortisol levels, and so if done regularly there should be no problems with cortisol
When you’re feeling depressed, sit in the Lotus position, rise up into a backbend and soar into the King Dance Pose. Easier said than done for sure but consistently practicing Yoga improves depression which leads to overall health because you feel good when your mind and mood are well.
11. Burn Calories
The words of most dieters are, “Move more and eat less”. Yoga can address both on a deeper level. What I mean by this is by regular Yoga practice, not only are you moving and burning calories, but the spiritual and emotional dimensions of practicing may allow one to address eating and weight loss therefore inspiring you to understand it all and not just go through the motions.
12. Lower Blood Sugar
Simply put….Yoga lowers blood sugar and LDL, (bad Cholesterol), and raises HDL (good cholesterol). Studies have shown that people with diabetes who practice Yoga have lowered their blood sugar in many ways by lowering cortisol and adrenaline levels which aids in weight loss.
13. Chill Out!
With the stress of the world today, our nervous system is tested probably far more than it’s ever been tested. Yoga can provide relief from the hustle and bustle of day to day survival. Yoga nidra, a form of guided relaxation along with meditation provides a cooling down period for the nervous system. Another by product is better sleep, which means you’ll be less tired when you wake-up and more equipped to handle life’s situations.
14. Immune Booster
Yoga form “Asana” improves immune function but scientific data shows that meditation works better.
15. Room to Breathe
Yogis tend to take less breaths but of greater volume, which tends to be calming and efficient. Another study shows that a technique called “complete breathing” was taught to people who had congestive heart failure and lung problems, and after one month their respiratory rate decreased from 13 breaths per second to 6 breaths per second. Another benefit was increased exercise capacity as well as oxygen saturation of the their blood.
I have not recommended any specific form of Yoga in this article because each individual will need to choose according to their specific needs and goals. Take your time in choosing a Yoga type and when you are really good at it, mix it up a bit.....you won't be sorry.