The word ‘Yoga’ conjures up images of men and women flexing and twisting their bodies and trying the most creative and challenging poses. But today, yoga has spread its wings far and wide and is globally considered a holistic way to heal the mind, body, and soul. Derived from the Sanskrit word ‘yuji’, Yoga is an ancient practice that is highly therapeutic and restores balance in your body.
On the occasion of the fifth annual International Day of Yoga, let’s learn six of its benefits supported by science:
1. Reduces stress
Breathe in, breathe out! Yoga instils a sense of calm and promotes relaxation when you perform various asanas. No wonder why multiple studies suggest yoga as the perfect solution to de-stress by decreasing the secretion of cortisol - the primary stress hormone. Practice yoga every day to lead a high-quality life.
2. Relieves anxiety
We are always hustling, aren’t we? There is always mounting pressure to prove ourselves, which gives way to anxiety. Thanks to yoga, you can control your mind and feel calm, even in high-pressure situations. Studies suggest those who practice yoga twice a week for at least two months can see a visible difference in how they deal with day-to-day stress. So, bring out your yoga mat and begin this restorative journey.
3. Reduces inflammation
While its positive effect on mental health is known, not many know that yoga can reduce inflammation in the body. A 2014 study shows that 12 weeks of yoga reduced inflammation in breast cancer survivors who experienced fatigue all the time.
4. Improves heart health
Your heart is a precious organ - it pumps blood throughout the body and supplies tissues with beneficial nutrients. When you practice yoga regularly, you can reduce several risk factors that trigger heart ailments. High blood pressure is one of the most common causes of heart attack and stroke. When yoga is coupled with a change in diet and sleep pattern, it results in a heart-healthy life!
5. Helps improve sleep quality
Sleep deprivation is one of the toughest things your body has to deal with. Your immunity comes down and you put yourself at risk to a host of other ailments, including depression, heart disorders and obesity. If you practice yoga daily, you can soothe your nerves and reduce anxiety and stress, thereby improving your quality of sleep. According to a study conducted in 2005, elderly patients were asked to practice yoga for a stipulated period of time - the group had a much better sleep quality, fell asleep faster and longer.
6. Improves flexibility and balance
Yoga is a great way to improve flexibility and balance, and this fact is supported by science, too. In fact, the premise of yoga differs from specific types of training because of its multifaceted requirements that challenge the body in varied ways. Certain asanas help you to lengthen and stretch your muscles in a safe and effective manner. A study conducted on athletes who practised yoga for 10 weeks, demonstrated the improvement in both flexibility and balance and therefore, may even enhance athletic performances that require these characteristics.
No matter what age group you belong to or what level of fitness you are at currently -- including the right yogasanas in your daily routine, under the guidance of an expert, will help you notice great improvements in your life.
In a nutshell, yoga is a great way to improve your mental and physical health in the most gentle manner! It’s time to give your body all the TLC it deserves, isn’t it?
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)