A central premise in yoga is “everything is connected.” That’s clear when you look at the health and fitness benefits of yoga that scientific research is confirming. Yoga is not just a way to stay fit — but an overall health aid. Here are some ways that yoga affects your health that you may not have considered:
- Stress Relief: Yoga reduces the physical effects of stress on the body by encouraging relaxation and lowering the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Related benefits include lowering blood pressure and heart rate, improving digestion and boosting the immune system, as well as easing symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, asthma and insomnia.
- Pain Relief: Yoga can ease pain. Studies have demonstrated that practicing yoga, meditation or a combination of the two, reduces pain for people with conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, auto-immune diseases and hypertension as well as arthritis, back and neck pain and other chronic conditions.
- Better Breathing: Yoga teaches you to take slower, deeper breaths. This helps to improve lung function and trigger the body’s relaxation response. It also helps improve circulation and more efficiently moves oxygenated blood to the body’s cells.
- Flexibility: The goal is not to bend and stretch like a performer from Cirque du Soleil. Even slight gains in flexibility and mobility help increase range of movement and help to reduce aches and pains.
- Better Body Alignment: Yoga brings awareness to body alignment, resulting in better posture and helping to relieve back, neck, joint and muscle problems that you are unknowingly causing yourself.
- Focus: Yoga helps us to focus on the present, to become more aware and to help create mind-body health. This helps to improve coordination, reaction time and memory.