Yoga has been described as, the cardio of the mind. Breaking the boundaries associated with spiritual practices and evolving into a household form of exercise has been 5,000 years in the making! Yoga originated from India and dates back to 500 B.C.E.
Spiritual advisors known as Brahmans or Vedic priests developed the practice of internal cleansing by focusing on eliminating the ego and replacing it with knowledge, wisdom, humility, and sacrifice.
Recorded in the ancient Upanishads, this book contains Yogic scriptures that profess how to reach ultimate enlightenment.
As this traditional form of mental cleansing gained popularity, gurus sought to expand the practice. By the late 1800s, Yoga was officially brought to the United States through the teachings provided by Swami Vivekananda.
He taught lectures on the history of yoga placing a great emphasis on its health benefits. From then, countless other enthusiasts have taken the classic blueprint of yoga and transformed it into an entire brand. This form of practice has gained popularity ranging from Hatha Yoga all the way to Yoga with Goats.
Although Yoga in the West is closely related to remaining physically fit while connecting the mind, body, and spirit, yoga is filled with countless health benefits.
Yoga can have a direct benefit on your quality of life. Achieving wellness doesn’t involve attempting to reach perfection. Rather, it consists of living your best life while feeling grateful in the moment.
State of Mind
Yoga is known for its relaxing effects and calming sensations. People practice yoga so as to escape the stress of reality and seek solace. Yoga can have a great impact on your state of mind as it encourages focus, gratitude, and contentment.
From burning calories to reducing the risk of getting cancer, Yoga is extremely beneficial to improving your overall health, wellness, and state of mind.
Let’s consider 50 fantastic reasons to pull out your mat and embrace the Downward Dog. Namaste!
50 Health Benefits of Yoga
Believe it or not, science has proven the reliability of a consistent yoga regimen and its effects on overall health. Like many exercises, yoga has its unique components that make it easy to access and most importantly, beneficial.
1| Calorie Burning
Yoga is rich with low-intensity stretches that can actually burn calories! Hot yoga, for example, is known for its purification through sweating components that make the class valuable. The studio temperature is reminiscent of a humid, Southern afternoon. Classes begin with a temperature of 95 degrees F and can rise to an upward of 105 degrees F! Bikram Yoga, a similar type, can reportedly burn 680 calories according to a recent study. If you decide to go this route, make sure your body is properly hydrated to avoid overheating.
2| Muscle Toning
Although many attribute yoga to simple stretches, their mentality is far from reality. Plank pose, for example, can tone the shoulders, back, and arms. In addition, it promotes a healthy core to maintain the posture of the pose. Many yoga poses require total body strength. By practicing yoga consistently, you will begin to see how strong your body becomes.
3| Relieving Back Pain
Yoga stretches the muscles of the body to promote flexibility and balance. Many stretches such as upward and downward dog have been known to relive chronic back pain. Child’s pose, which involves crossing the legs while placing your outstretched arms in from of you, will help to stretch the back entirely.
4| Strengthens the Brain
Core exercises have been known to stabilize the brain and promote social function. A 2015 study conducted by the National Institute of Health found that brain structures of consistent yoga participants had more pain fighting brain tissue than those who did not practice yoga. In summation, the study found that yoga could actually limit the amount of pain one feels.
5| Increases Flexibility
Yoga dramatically improves the elasticity of the body. Many basic yoga poses focus on elongating the body while loosening specific muscles. Over time, many Yoga advocates are able to bend and twist their body in various ways. By elongating the body, certain muscles become soft and easy to manipulate. This allows individuals the ability to maneuver themselves in tricky ways.
6| Increases Strength
One of the focus points of yoga is the ability to remain in your pose for a number of seconds. This requires upper and lower body control. Once this is mastered, the person practicing yoga will experience an increase in their strength. They are able to utilize their muscles in a way that promotes control and physical strength. In fact, some advanced yoga gurus are able to hold their entire body up with just the palms of their hands. How’s that for upper body strength?
7| Assist with Chronic Illness Control
Many symptoms associated with chronic illness include neurological disfunction, body pain, and fatigue. Yoga has been found to assist with lessening the symptoms associated with chronic illnesses such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other auto-immune system illnesses. In fact, a recent study conducted by Musculoskelet Care in 2013 found that individuals who were diagnosed with fibromyalgia and practiced yoga consistently experienced less pain physically and mentally.
8| More Energy
Like most physical activity, exercise can reduce symptoms of fatigue and restore energy. Kundalini studies specific breathing and stretching exercises that work to stimulate cosmic energy fields. There are specific yoga poses such as stretch pose, ego eradicator, and camel ride that are used to regulate energy throughout the body. The great thing about yoga is that it improves focus which requires energy. You won’t experience a burst of energy like you would when completing a run. Rather, it is a more controlled energy that puts your mind and body at ease.
9| Loss of Weight
Yoga requires strength and the physical exertion of the body. Although yoga isn’t associated with cardio or high-intensity work outs, the flexibility involved can help to reduce unnecessary weight. In addition, mindfulness is an important aspect of yoga. This mentality can help you to remain cognizant of what you are eating.
10| Cardiovascular Assistance
The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of activity a day to see an improvement in heart disease symptoms. The flexible poses can restore blood flow which promotes healthy circulation. In addition, the stress relieving focus of yoga has been known to help prevent heart disease and blood pressure.
11| Assist with Mindful Eating
As mentioned, yoga has a focus on connecting the mind, body, and soul to create balance. Mindfulness refers to taking in everything around you and living in the moment. When one practices yoga consistently, they will become more mindful in all aspects of life. This includes choosing healthy and nutritious foods. When you become mindful of what you are putting into your body, you are less likely to indulge in unhealthy options.
12| Blood Circulation
Since yoga involves low-intensity poses, your heart rate is bound to rise while attempting to remain in your position. When this occurs, your blood is moving throughout the body which helps to promote healthy circulation. Warrior and Chair Pose are awesome ways to get your blood pumping while remaining focused!
13| Immunity Defense
Did you know that high exposure to stress can weaken your immunity; thus, making you more susceptible to sickness? Since yoga reduces stress, it promotes a healthy immune system which may help to reduce unwanted colds. Poses that focus on the expansion of the chest, such as Fish Pose, can help to eliminate sinuses found in the body. By expanding the chest, you are breaking up clogging mucus that can be found in the chest, lungs, and throat.
14| Ability to Withstand Pain
Yoga is initially uncomfortable as you are stretching your body in different ways. By consistently exposing your body to this type of intensity, you are building your pain tolerance. In conjunction, yoga instructors teach their participants how to breathe through the pain. These breathing techniques have also been found to assist pregnant women during labor.
15| Stable Posture
The many poses found in common yoga classes are known for elongating the spine and building your core. Warrior Pose, Downward Dog, and Swan Pose are known for helping with posture. You will notice how fluid your back feels which allows you to sit up straight with confidence.
16| Body Cleansing of Toxins
Toxins found within the body can be found with tight muscles. By stretching them on a regular basis, you are eliminating those negative energy fields and supporting wellness. Hot Yoga classes are also known to detoxify the body through the release of sweat and unhealthy toxins. If you are seeking to feel refreshed and rejuvenated, yoga is a valuable option.
17| Balance and Control
Yoga requires balance. Many of the poses, such as Chair Pose or Warrior, are held for 20 to 30 seconds. This requires great balance and control in order to maintain your posture. Breathing is also an important aspect of maintaining your posture. This requires a control while inhaling and exhaling.
18| Sleep Benefits
If you suffer from insomnia or have trouble falling asleep at night, yoga is an awesome option for curtailing that. Studies have shown that specific poses will regulate the circulation of blood that goes straight to the part of the brain that controls sleep. By performing yoga at night, you will feel relaxed and restful. This will help to normalize your sleep cycle.
19| Body Awareness
You have to have a certain control over your body to perform the poses correctly. By being aware of where your body is in space, you are increasing your body awareness. This helps to connect both the body and mind to effectively carry out the poses with ease. Many of the poses in yoga are performed through slight movements. In order to carry out those movements, it’s important to be fully aware of where your body is and how it can move from one direction to the other.
20| Increased Libido
Tantric Yoga is specifically designed to increase sexual energy throughout the body. The beauty behind this form of yoga is its integrative approach. Along with performing strategic poses, Tantric yoga focuses on meditations, visualizing manifestations, self-affirmations, and ritualistic cleansing of the body.
21| Increased Vitamin C
By consistently practicing yoga, you can boost Vitamin C levels within your body. Through blood circulation, this vital vitamin is abundant in helping to prevent illness.
22| Hormone Control
The Endocrine System is responsible for regulating hormone and energy levels within the body. Due to its importance, an out of whack Endocrine System can result in weight gain, insomnia, and mood imbalances. Because yoga promotes deed breathing, certain exercises can work to stimulate the endocrine system, thus providing balance in the body. Poses such as, Rabbit, Cobra, and Camel are awesome examples.
23| Reduces Sodium Levels
Sodium is abundant in the foods we consume. Sadly, without proper attention, these high levels of sodium can turn into unwanted body fat along with a host of health problems. Since yoga is considered an exercise regimen, it cleanses the body of excess sodium through sweat and exertion.
24| Controlled and Deep Breathing
Yoga is primarily focused on breathing in and out in with specific exercises. Breathing while exercising has been known to soften the process and preserve energy. Deep breathing has also been known to reduce anxiety. Yoga is all about connecting the mind, body, and soul. Being conscious of your breathing patterns is another aspect of connecting the body.
Yoga focuses on connecting the body through slight movements. In order to adjust your body to the next movement, you have to have a strong level of coordination to maintain. By focusing on ensuring that your movements are on point, you will strengthen your coordination.
26| Resiliency and Endurance
Resiliency and endurance involves pushing through physical or mental pain in order to reach a potential outcome. In the beginning, yoga may be difficult when attempting to memorize the poses, along with developing an accuracy for breathing. However, when you continue to participate in the activity despite the challenges, this creates a sense of resiliency.
Asthma occurs when the airways in the respiratory system become stimulated which results in breathing difficulties. Because yoga encourages deep breathing that opens the pathways to the respiratory system, research has shown that yoga can help to alleviate symptoms associated with asthma.
Yoga promotes healthy blood flow throughout the body. When placing the head in specific yoga poses that encourage the rush of blood to the brain, this can prevent migraines.
As mentioned, yoga can open the respiratory system through elongating the chest and neck. This helps with breaking up mucus and sinuses found in the body. Certain poses help with draining harmful allergens found in the body to assist with flare ups.
30| Constipation (Digestive Tract)
Many yoga poses focus on slight movements in the stomach and pelvic area. When constipation arises, the movement of these specific parts of the body can help to regulate the digestive system. This can alleviate symptoms of constipation while promoting a healthy digestive tract system.
Menopause symptoms include hormone imbalances and hot flashes. Many women also experience a decreased libido when enduring menopause. One recent study found that women who regularly practiced yoga had a 31% decrease in the number of hot flashes they had throughout the day.
Sciatica is associated with pain in the muscles and joints. In order to alleviate that pain, specific yoga stretches, and poses can help to elongate the body and move that pain out of the body.
Yoga is typically practiced in a quiet environment and free from outside distractions. This ensures that the body and mind are both relaxed. Many yoga poses are refreshing to the body as well, because they feel enlightening.
During yoga, participants have to focus primarily on their breathing and work to release negative thoughts from the mind. By partaking in yoga sessions, you can improve your concentration. Paying attention to where your body is in space can help to improve overall concentration in daily life.
35| Improved Focus
As mentioned, yoga helps with concentration in the moment and outside of the mat. However, practicing concentration on a regular basis can lead to an improved focus. Yogis must pay key attention to their thoughts and body. In addition, appropriate breathing helps to make the moves easier. You have to improve your focus in order to fully carry out the exercises.
36| Assist with Anxiety
Anxiety stems from a fear of the unknown. Excessive worry requires a lot of energy that can cause anxiety. Yoga emphasizes mindfulness which means focusing on the moment. Deep breathing also assists with anxiety as it calms the mind and body. Yoga instructors speak on the importance of releasing negative energy and absorbing positivity. Anxiety is a negative energy field that can distract us from daily life.
When individuals are dealing with depression, they often times suffer from a lack of purpose. Yoga provides individuals with a sense of community which could give them something positive to look forward to. By connecting the mind and body, you are able to disengage negative thinking and purge yourself of harmful experiences.
38| Negative Thinking
Yoga is full of positive mantras and affirmations that are prevalent throughout the entire session. Many Yoga instructors place a great emphasis on positive thinking by repeating calming statements. By getting in the habit of thinking positively and manifesting positive energy, you will have a better outlook on life.
39| Improved Memory
Certain yoga poses work to promote blood circulation which helps with focus and attention. When this occurs, your memory drastically improves. You are more attentive to small details, such as your breathing. Because of this, you are able to carry those practices into your daily life.
In addition, many yoga poses are performed in a choreographed motion. For instance, before jumping into a new pose, many yoga instructors will encourage their participants to go into downward dog first, then upward facing dog before moving on. Soon, you will begin to memorize the order in which your poses go!
40| Mood Regulation
Many popular affirmations stated by yoga instructors are, “I feel connected,” or, “I am relaxed.” Because of this, constant participation can help to improve your mood. You are able to face everyday problems with mental clarity as opposed to acting on your first emotion. Yoga requires discipline and dedication. These factors all contribute to the regulating of moods.
41| Total Body Connection
Imagine performing yoga exercises while stressing about a deadline at work or even an argument you’ve recently had with a loved one. Likely, your ability to give it your all is compromised. This distraction can lead to half-hazard poses and an overall disconnect from the experience.
Yoga requires full connection between the mind, body, and spirit in order to reap its full benefits. You have to be cognizant of your breathing, remain aware of where your body is, and silence your mind.
This requires a strong connection. Although difficult initially, consistent practice can help to bring your entire energy together.
42| Meditative; Spiritual Education
For individuals looking for a spiritual sense of fulfillment within their lives, yoga is a valuable option. Because yoga is derived from ancient spiritual practices, its roots are enriched with powerful messages that can connect you to a higher power. In addition, yoga can provide meaning to your life by giving you purpose. Many individuals find peace by performing yoga poses as it brings them closer to nature and the energy surrounding us.
As mentioned, yoga was developed as a means to cleanse the ego and replace it with understanding. Often times, our minds are so busy and filled with outside influences, our inner voice gets lost in translation. By taking some time to silence those thoughts and divert your attention, you are slowing resurrecting that lost voice. You will soon see your own strength which will increase your intuition. In turn, you will begin to become one with yourself which can lead to healthy decisions and mental clarity.
44| Detox of Past Hurt
Yoga is not just a physical detox, it is a mental detox as well. Many retreats focus on silencing negative thoughts and making peace with the present. If you struggle with negative experiences in your past, yoga promotes mindfulness and, in the moment, thinking.
When you practice this way of viewing things regularly, you will likely learn how to let go of past situations of despair. You can become one with your own mind which will help to promote forgiveness and a sense of responsibility.
45| Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a form of anxiety that makes individuals perform repetitive compulsions with the hopes of alleviating stress. When individuals are seeking holistic ways to manage their condition, mental health care professionals suggest yoga as a means to wellness. Because yoga relaxes the mind and forces you to divert your attention to your body and breathing, it leaves no room for anxiety. By practicing this on a daily basis, clients OCD may see a dramatic decrease in their need for compulsions.
46| Post Partem Depression
New moms experience postpartum depression after giving birth. Many times, this depression can have such a deep impact on the mother, they consider suicide or even harming their child. Yoga focuses primarily on self-discovery through breathing and stretches.
This may be a great activity for new mothers to engage in because it allows them some self-care time. In addition, it can be a great way to become one with their thoughts and feelings toward their new role in life. Yoga can alleviate the stress associated with depression as well as bring the new mother calming energy.
47| Increases Open Mindedness
As previously mentioned, yoga has often been associated with foreign practices that promote supernatural or spiritual contact. While some yoga instructors place a great emphasis on a spiritual connection, the majority of yoga classes are for physical and mental health.
When you open your mind to new opportunities, you may find great joy in those experiences. This allows you to learn about a new avenue while improving your health!
48| Promotes Community Health
Many communities host group yoga sessions that are inexpensive and sometimes free to interested ones. Since instructors understand the importance of yoga, they strive to make it available to all. This brings together likeminded individuals who may have never crossed paths. Yoga classes offer a sense of belonging as well as community integration.
Advanced yoga retreats focus on meditation and the quieting of the mind. This requires strict discipline to be able to block out outside distractions and allow your mind to be silenced. In addition, full body control is needed to remain in your position throughout the duration of your session.
50|Positive Coping Strategy
When facing stressful situations, many often turn to harmful vices to relieve their tension. Since yoga is a relaxing agent, practicing it on a regular basis can prove to be a valuable release. When facing illness, anxiety, or depression, certain poses can place you in a positive state of mind without risks.