Yoga has countless health benefits, so in this post I’m just going to list a few of my favourites. If you’re thinking about starting a yoga practice but you’re not quite sure how it will benefit you, here are some reasons that might encourage you to roll out your mat!
- Yoga increases both flexibility and strength
As a runner, it’s important for me to look after my body between runs, and yoga is one of the ways in which I do that. Many people come to yoga looking for more flexibility, but many of the poses surprisingly will have you feeling stronger! Studies suggest that the benefits of yoga on overall wellbeing may be cumulative, so maintaining a regular practice is key if you want to see your strength and flexibility improving!
- Yoga is great for joint health too!
Many yoga sequences will often take your joints through pretty much their whole range of motion, which is really good for keeping them supple and maintaining (or increasing) your mobility! Any physical activity encourages the circulation of synovial fluid, which is what helps to keep your joints lubricated. As you move through your joints’ full range of motion during your yoga practice, you’ll also be squeezing water molecules out of the cartilage, allowing it to then refill with fresh nutrients and oxygen.
- Yoga can improve your blood flow
A regular practice, particularly asanas which involve inversions, can help improve your blood flow. This improves your circulation and helps to get more oxygen to your organs, in turn helping them to function better! Studies have also suggested that improved blood flow can help reduce the symptoms of IBS, so if that’s something you struggle with and you feel like you’ve tried everything, give yoga a go!
- Yoga can help you sleep better
Numerous studies (like this one) show that yoga can improve your sleep. Practicing yoga can stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps you feel relaxed. The parasympathetic nervous system reduces your heart rate and respiration rate (as well as increasing digestion), helping you feel calm. Yoga also lowers cortisol levels (known as the stress hormone because of its role in the stress response), so a daily practice, especially a calming yin or hatha sequence before bed, could help you sleep better.
- Of course, there are mental benefits as well!
When I first discovered yoga, it was on a surfing retreat where I thought yoga would be a nice addition to the day to stretch out aching muscles. Turns out I fell completely in love with yoga because of the way it improved my mental health. There are tonnes of mental health benefits, such as increasing your happiness and boosting your self esteem. In my last post, I talked about how exercise can help give you confidence, and yoga is great for this too! I’ll probably do a whole separate post on the mental health benefits of yoga, because there are just so many and, as I said, that’s the side of yoga that really got me hooked!
So those are just 5 of the many, many health benefits of yoga. I’ll try and do a longer post in the future because I’ve not done yoga justice, but hopefully this post has helped convince you to give it a go if you’re looking for an activity that will help you feel fitter and healthier! If you are new to yoga, I have a whole beginner’s yoga course in the membership, so if you’re interested in giving it a go but are worried about going to a class, you can try it free for 7 days by clicking here.
Do you practice yoga?
If you do, what’s your favourite thing about it?