10 benefits of yoga

By Calasandra Spray (TheLorian)

As cooler weather sweeps through the air, so does lethargy. A resistance to movement, slower reactions, and overall sluggishness plague the body as the weather changes and begs us to stay indoors and in bed. One way to combat the sluggishness of winter is to practice physical movement. You’ve probably heard of yoga, maybe even tried it for yourself and found it makes you feel better. Maybe you’ve even felt an increase in your emotional well-being, self-confidence, and overall happiness after practicing yoga. There’s a multitude of reasons for feeling better after exercise, and plenty more for stretching. Here are some reasons why yoga is beneficial to the mind and body: 

  1. Improves Flexibility; moving and stretching in different or new ways can ease tightness in muscles. As we age we tend to be more stagnant and spend greater amounts of time sitting down. By stretching our muscles a greater range of motion is eventually developed and combats muscle aches and pains that could lead to further immobility. Participating in yoga leads to greater flexibility overall but particularly in the back, shoulders, hamstrings, and hips. 
  2. Prevents Back Pain; increased flexibility counteracts tightness throughout the body from sitting for long periods of time. This tightness can cause spinal compression and releasing that compression can ease or prevent some back pain. 
  3. Build Strength; remaining in poses for several breaths requires that your body bears weight where it typically wouldn’t. Different poses demand separate muscle’s to take on your body weight, such as your legs in garland pose, your arms in downward dog, or your back in camels pose. 
  4. Increased Muscle Tone; as a result of building muscle and gaining flexibility your muscles will begin to gain a toned look. By not only building muscle but stretching it, long lean muscles will begin to develop.
  5. Improves Balance; yoga’s muscle building factors weigh in to balance as well as train your body to bear weight in new ways. Building core strength through poses like fish pose, cobra pose, and crow pose will increase balance. Tree pose will also help improve in balance as it requires the yogi to stand on one leg and find their center of gravity. 
  6. Supports Joint Health; yoga’s movements are low impact allowing the yogi to use joints without straining them. Additionally, strengthening muscles around joints through yoga relieves some of the load joints have to bear and makes everyday activities easier on the joints. 
  7. Teaches Better Breathing; breathing is an automatic bodily function, like blinking, that many people don’t think about. As a result most people take frequent shallow breaths. Yoga teaches deeper thoughtful breaths that benefit the entire body. Deep breaths can help rejuvenate the body as well as calm the nervous system. 
  8.  Creates Mental Calmness; focusing solely on the physical body can bring calmness to the mind as it is given time to rest. Through yoga techniques you can learn to disengage from thoughts and focus on breathing and how your body is moving. 
  9. Reduces Stress; any physical activity can stimulate the body and reduce stress. While your mind and body are focused on the tasks at hand and deep breathing, other daily worries slip away. The concentration required for yoga gives your mind a break and provides an opportunity to think with a clearer mind and a new perspective. 
  10. Increases Self-Confidence; spreading large amounts of time tuning in with your body gives yogi’s a better sense of themselves and creates a connection between the mind and body. Over time this connection leads to feeling more comfortable in your body, creating a boost of self- confidence.
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