6 Amazing Health Benefits of Yoga

by Isabel | January 16, 2018

Yoga has come a long way from its birthplace in India. Nowadays, you can find a yoga studio in almost every country, teaching different styles of this ancient practice. People are often drawn to its simple, no equipment routine. All you need is a mat, and you can start your practice. It a low impact workout, making it appealing to any age demographic.

How to Start Practicing Yoga

It is always best to start with beginner classes. Find a yoga studio and let the teacher help you assess your fitness level.  They can also help you pick the type of yoga class you can reap the most benefits from.

Types of Yoga

There are so many styles of yoga today. Teachings of yoga evolved as time passed. Some forms of yoga are more intense, while others still prefer the spiritual and mindful way of yoga.  Here is a list and definition of the basic yoga styles most commonly offered in yoga studios:

Anusara

Anusara is a purist form of yoga with a modern twist.

Ashtanga

This is a practice that focuses on flowing from one pose to another, emphasizing proper breathing.

Bikram

Bikram is known as hot yoga, because it is practiced in a heated room with the temperature reaching up to 105 degrees.

Hatha

Hatha is one of the most popular types of yoga and focuses on “asanas” or postures.

Iyengar

This type of yoga requires props, such as blocks, boards and blankets to assist with the alignment of the body.

Kripalu

Kripalu focuses on the abilities of the practitioner. As you deepen your practice, postures are held for an extended time.

Kundalini

Another fast-moving yoga, kundalini helps to release the energy in your body.

Prenatal

If you’re expecting or planning to conceive, you can enroll in this class

Restorative

This kind of yoga focuses more on relaxation and meditation than postures.

Vinyasa or Power yoga

This is a fast-paced yoga and helps with weight loss and body strength.

Health Benefits of Yoga

Improves Flexibility, Muscle Strength and Posture

Yoga is a full body workout; therefore, it is able to improve both your flexibility and muscle strength. Over time, standing poses correct your posture, as you develop better balance.

Certain yoga postures, such as forward bends, back bends, child’s pose and headstands, are practiced to help with depression. These are calming poses, which quiet the mind. It might be difficult for beginners, but once you develop the arm and core strength for these poses, you’ll start to love the benefits of yoga.

Want to improve your flexibility?  Try a standing forward fold.

Start with your with your feet shoulder-width apart and slowly bend your knees and upper body forward and reach for the floor. It is not important to touch the floor, but it is important to start slow and follow where your body takes you. Once in the forward bend, relax your neck and shoulders. Take a few breaths by deeply breathing in and fully exhaling, when you are ready, slowly return to your starting position.

Improves Blood Circulation

“Move with the breath” is a phrase you will hear a lot when you are in a yoga studio. As you start your yoga practice, become in tune with your body movements and breathing. This rhythmic flow improves your blood circulation. Increased blood flow also leads to better heart health and boosts your immunity.

Chair pose is another yoga posture you can try to improve your body’s blood circulation. Start with the mountain pose. Stand up straight and raise your arms straight above your head, while at the same time keeping your shoulders relaxed. Slowly bend your knees and lower your butt, as if you were going to sit on an invisible chair. Hold the pose, practicing your rhythmic breathing for 10 breaths.  Slowly return to your starting position.

Regulates Blood Pressure

If you have been  diagnosed with hypertension, it simply means you have high blood pressure. This diagnosis could have arisen from smoking, obesity, lack of physical activity, and an unhealthy diet. Through developing a healthier eating lifestyle and practicing yoga, you will be able to lower your blood pressure.

Simple yoga poses, such as child’s pose and hero pose, are low intensity poses that create a feeling of calmness. When you feel calm, you can naturally reduce blood pressure.

Want to try the child’s pose? Here’s how you can do it.

Start by sitting on your heels. Slowly bend forwards, reaching your forehead to the floor (some prefer bringing the top of their heads to the floor). Place your arms on your sides with palms facing upward, completely stretching your shoulders to the sides (this comes naturally). Your feet should be facing inwards in a relaxed fashion. Your chest will be resting on your thighs (if this constricts your breathing, you may spread your knees apart), and as you breathe, you will feel a gentle stretch along your spine. Hold the pose and take five or more breaths. When you are ready, you may return to your sitting position.

If you feel any discomfort in your spine as you bend, stop and go back to sitting position.

Helps Develop Focus and Concentration

According to many years of research, yoga calms the mind, which leads to better concentration and focus in your daily life. Prayer pose is a basic yoga posture that soothes the mind.

Start by standing straight, with your feet shoulders width apart. Move your arms towards your chest and bring your palms together. Relax your neck and look straight ahead. Take 5-10 breaths, or more until you feel relaxed.

Aids in Weight Loss

Depending on the style of yoga you choose to practice, which may include not only one style, you will lose weight without trying. Yoga is able to entice your heart rate and is also a strengthening exercise, which are both common factors in doing physical exercise. Visiting a yoga studio regularly, and watch your entire health change.

A Good Night Sleep

Restorative yoga postures help you relax. At the end of these yoga sessions, you can meditate, listen and focus on your breathing, or just be still in the present moment.

According to some research, people who practice yoga regularly report that they are able to have an undisturbed good night’s sleep. Sleep is important for your body to repair itself and rejuvenate your body; thus, waking up energized.

Try the corpse pose for a good night sleep. Lie flat on your back with legs and arms slightly spread out. Take a few deep breaths.  Slowly reach your arms over your head and bend your knees toward your chest.  Roll over to one side and slowly come up to a seated position.

Important things to remember before practicing yoga

  • Always consult your doctor before starting any fitness routine.
  • If there is any discomfort felt during practice, inform your yoga instructor.
  • Home practice can and may cause harm to your body if not performed properly, always be cautious and do not push yourself too hard.