There was a study that was conducted by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance in 2016. The study was called yoga in America. In this study, the researchers found out that there were 36.7 million people practicing yoga in America in that year. This was a whopping 50% increase from 2012. Clearly, something was attracting people to yoga and keeping them there. At the time, it was unclear what it was but it was later discovered that the rise of popularity was mostly attributed to the promising benefits of yoga.
Below is a couple of some of the benefits of yoga, which are going to answer the question ‘why should you do yoga.
1. It relieves stress
No one in this world is unfamiliar with stress. We all get frustrated and disappointed with life sometimes. That then makes us stressed. For most people, managing stress is really challenging, which then leads to accumulation of stress for a long time. The accumulation of stress usually causes an imbalance in your nervous system which makes it hard for you to focus, sleep and unwind.
One of the benefits of yoga is its ability to relieve you of stress. The breathing exercises that yoga makes you do usually lower your heart rate, which slowly shifts your nervous system into a relaxed state. It slows down your mental loops of fear, anger, regret and frustration. That then helps you to think clearly, which not only improves your focus but also your sleep. The encouragement of relaxation also helps your body to lower the stress hormone cortisol. That relaxes you further and improves the quality of your life.
2. It helps to manage diabetes
If you are at a high risk of diabetes, you will be glad to know that yoga can actually help you reduce your risk of getting diabetes as well as managing it. How? Yoga helps you counter diabetes by reducing the contributing factors that lead to diabetes.
When you practice yoga, you usually do postures that switch back and forth between poses. Some of these poses contract certain areas of your abdomen while others relax those areas. That alternation usually stimulates your pancreas, which increases its oxygen and blood supply. This improves the ability of the organ to produce insulin. The improved production of insulin ensures that your blood sugar levels are well managed and that helps you avoid as well as manage diabetes.
The other contributing factor of diabetes that yoga deals with is stress. More often than not, stress leads to emotional eating of comfort foods high in sugar. The high sugar levels causes your body to produce high levels of insulin to manage your sugar levels. Over time, due to consistent high sugar levels, your pancreas needs to produce more and more insulin, which it is unable to do so leading to pre-diabetes and eventually diabetes if you don’t do anything about the situation.
3. It boosts your immunity
Practicing yoga constantly makes you move your organs around as you contract and stretch your muscles. When you do that, you usually increase the drainage of lymph in your body. Lymph is a viscous fluid that is rich in immune cells; thus, when it is distributed more through your body, it increases your immune defenses which improves your body’s immunity to internal and external attacks.
4. It makes you happier
One of the reasons why we as human beings feel sad and angry is because we do not live in the moment. Let me break it down for you; majority of us usually spend time thinking about the future or the past. What this does to us is it keeps us busy planning, worrying or regretting. All of that only increases our nervousness and leaves us feeling miserable.
The practice of yoga usually encourages you to meditate. Meditation helps you to unplug from your thoughts and helps you focus on what is happening in your body and your life. Being in the present is where happiness is found.
5. Increase Flexibility
One of the reasons why you should do yoga is so that you can increase your flexibility. Yoga is usually full of postures that work your whole body and this includes even the forgotten joints. This leads to a good sense of balance and harmony. Your muscle groups start working together as opposed to them working against each other; and that is what makes you flexible when you practice yoga.
At the beginning, you might not feel this flexibility but if you keep at it, you will be surprised at how you will gradually loosen up to a point that you are able to do poses that you thought were impossible.
6. Helps you sleep better
One of the sort after benefit of yoga is its ability to improve your sleep. Yoga does two things that help you sleep better and deeper. One, it takes you through physically challenging postures a good example being when you are performing Ashtanga and Bikram yoga. This exhausts your body and puts your body in a position where it badly needs sleep in order to reenergize itself.
Secondly, yoga gives you mental relaxation, which provides downtime for your nervous system. This eliminates stress and constant thoughts that keep you awake at night, which means that you get better sleep with it.
7. Builds your muscle strength
You might not know this but muscles don’t just make us look good, they also guard us from conditions like back pain and arthritis. One of the best ways to build muscles is through doing yoga. The reason why it’s the best is because it helps you with both muscle regeneration and body weight training.
When you practice yoga, you normally bring yourself into positions where your muscles need to support you. Such poses include handstand and downward dog. When you do those types of poses, you usually build your muscle strength using your own body weight.
The good thing about yoga is that it works your whole body targeting all your muscles including the little ones that you might not notice. Yoga also increases the endurance in your muscles by making you hold on to poses for a certain amount of time.
Some other benefits:
- Reduces risk of heart disease and stroke
- Eases Asthma
- Improves memory
- Reduces insomnia
- Relieves pain more effectively than medication
- Perfects posture
- Lowers blood sugar
- Prevents cartilage and joint breakdown
- Protects spine
- Helps with weight loss
- Slows down the aging process
- Helps recover from addiction
- Helps beat depression
- Increases energy levels
- Increases endurance
- Enhances fertility
- Reduces pain associated with arthritis, fibromyaligia and other chronic conditions
- Boosts immune system functionality
- Increases blood flow
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Improves relationships
- Improves athletic performance
- Lowers blood pressure more effectively than medication
- Regulates adrenal glands
- Improves focus
- Cultivates mental strength
- Fosters creativity
- Helps sleep deeper
- Decreases muscle tension
- Improves balance
- Enhances feelings of happiness and vitality
- Enhances self-awareness
- Fosters peace of mind, happiness and joy
- Develops intuition
- Builds wisdom
You now know how beneficial yoga is. Your next question must be how can I start practicing yoga? That question will be fully answered but not before, you get a little bit of introduction to the world of yoga. The next topic is going to orient you into the world of yoga by educating you on things you should know and do before you start practicing yoga.