Yoga is a mind and body training based on mediation combined with physical exercise that people have practiced for over 5000 years. Studies are showing that there are multiple benefits of yoga and meditation, especially in pregnant women.
Practicing yoga can enhance the mobility of the body, significantly reduce stress and improve the health condition.
There are over a hundred different techniques of yoga, some easier to practice, others more difficult. Some are more relaxing, while others are more intense and with an appeal to different types of people.
From Hatha to Kundalini, each type of yoga has specific benefits and has unique requirements. For example, Hot Yoga is designed for people who are ready to throw in a sweat as the studios are heated to 40 degrees Celsius and 40% humidity. Very hot indeed and the right choice for those who want to naturally eliminate toxins from the body while getting a full body and mind workout.
Over time, specialists have researched the yoga phenomenon and came up with a series of benefits of yoga and meditation, among which we can mention:
Benefit #1: Learning to listen to your body
Once we become aware of this incredible mechanism that is our body, we can offer it what it needs and when it needs it. Yoga is a great tool that we can use when we’re trying to get to know ourselves better, both body and soul. The body needs rest and exercise, and the soul needs time to reflect. Practicing yoga can help to get to know your body, mind, and soul. The healing process starts from within; all we have to do is be patient and listen and allow the body to guide the way.
Benefit #2: Reduced level of cortisone in the body
Cortisone is the stress hormone. It is associated with a series of health issues such as depression, weight gain, cardiac afflictions, and even reduced bone density. In the past, this hormone was essential for the survival of the species. People were regularly exposed to a significant danger back then. During those days, the stimuli that triggered increased cortisone levels were almost exclusively external.
Nowadays, we are talking mostly about internal or emotional factors. Increased levels of cortisone in the body affect the organism on multiple levels. It can also lead to premature aging. Studies are showing that yoga can significantly reduce the level of cortisone in the body as this practice focuses on relaxation and mental and emotional balance.
Benefit #3: An enlargement at the level of the hippocampus
In other words, by practicing yoga, you can get certain parts of the brain to become more prominent. We are talking about the hippocampus. The National Center of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in the United States performed research, and the results show that the hippocampus can be enlarged.
The condition is for the person to practice yoga for as little as two hours per week. It has been scientifically proven that the hippocampus and the somatosensorial cortex are more developed in people who practice yoga regularly compared to people who don’t have this habit. The hippocampus is the area of the brain essential for the formation of new memories and memory in general).
Benefit #4: Development of brain cells
From an anatomical point of view, the nervous system is divided into two. We have the spinal cord and the brain. The brain controls all functions of the body from the beats of the heart to respiration and the emotions and thoughts.
The studies performed in the US show that after two months of yoga and meditation techniques, the grey matter in the hippocampus area has increased density. This fact led to better awareness and compassion.
Also, it is associated with improved memory and an increased ability to assimilate new information. At the same time, the study has concluded that practicing yoga as a way of life can boost IQ.
Benefit #5: Better self-control
At first, it might not be easy for everyone to have a disciplined lifestyle and introduce breathing exercises in everyday life. A popular belief is that the mind is the master of the body. If this is true, then the respiration is the master of the brain. By practicing yoga, you learn how to breathe so that you can achieve better self-control.
Benefit #6: Optimal weight
By practicing yoga, you might not lose weight, but you can achieve your optimal weight. Some people notice a slight weight loss after starting yoga. Yoga helps your body discover and uncover what is right for you. The weight loss that occurs naturally is just a consequence of achieving a wellbeing state and a balance.
Benefit #7: It promotes body positivity
Body image is how we see ourselves in terms of physical appearance. Some of us struggle to accept that time will leave its marks on our bodies, and the same goes for pregnancies and other life events. Having a positive body image can impact our lives in more ways than one.
It can determine how we choose our jobs, partners, and even how we relate on a social level. It is the reason why embracing the body positivity trend is essential for our wellbeing. Yoga stands for improved flexibility and breathing, and mindfulness, being in the moment completely.
Studies show that practicing yoga can increase self-esteem and wellbeing, hence promoting body positivity.
Everyone can practice yoga, even if their weight is not perfect. And once you get into the habit of it and start noticing the positive effects, it can make you feel better about yourself and your body.
Benefit #8: Helps relieve anxiety
Feeling anxious all the time? Is stress making it difficult for you to function daily? At the base of all anxiety manifestations, there is the sensation of not being able to control things. In other words, anxiety bases on fear.
But fear is a natural reaction to a real danger, while concern is a fear reaction to an imaginary threat. When fear teaches us prudence, stress makes us hesitant. And this is the reason why it might be difficult for people affected by pressure to perform even some of the most mundane activities.
However, the good news is that there is treatment available. Aside from specific medication and therapy, chances are your doctor will recommend you taking up yoga, and, again, his recommendation would be backed up by studies. One of the common reasons why people start practicing yoga is to deal with anxiety. Practicing yoga as little as once per week can considerably reduce the signs of distress. Generally speaking, to notice an improvement, the suggestion is to try yoga three times per week for a few months.
There is no time like the present time; this is what we learn when doing yoga. When practicing yoga, we focus on living in the moment, enjoying the moment, and concentrate on breathing. These are essential methods of coping with anxiety. While yoga is not a cure for anxiety or other similar conditions, it can help relieve the symptoms and can increase your ability to deal with it.
Benefit #9: Better heart health
Just imagine yourself at the yoga class wholly relaxed and, at the moment, doing the downward dog pose with infinite grace. You are very much in the moment, feeling good in your skin. If you often find yourself leaving the yoga class with a smile on your face, you should know that it does more for you than just relaxation. Practicing yoga can also lead to better heart health.
Ischaemic heart disease and stroke are among the leading causes of death worldwide. The health of the cardiovascular system is a significant concern for experts from all over the world nowadays.
There is a lot of money invested in studying how we can achieve better heart health as many people develop heart conditions with age.
And some of these studies have shown that practicing yoga can lead to better heart health. The yoga breathing and relaxation exercises performed regularly can reduce arterial tension in adults suffering from hypertension. Just like in the case of lowering the level of anxiety, regular practice means doing yoga about three times per week.
Studies show that the effects are not very different from the ones achieved when the patient did aerobic exercises. Also, the research shows that due to the stress-reducing effects of yoga, patients can notice an improvement in heart health.
Benefit #10 Improved sleep quality
Have you ever found yourself counting sheep night after night to no avail? Every human being needs sleep to survive. A good night’s sleep is essential for mental and physical health and can increase the quality of life. So, when you hear someone complaining that he feels like a zombie because he didn’t get any sleep in a while, take their word for it.
Sleeping is an essential, complex physiological process that helps the brain and the body to develop harmoniously and to function well. Hence, when we sleep little or the quality of sleep is poor, we tend to be less efficient, more tired and irritable, we make more mistakes, we are less creative, and we get sick more often. Just like food and water, sleep is a basic need, and without it, life wouldn’t be possible.
Several studies show that sleep deficiency can change activity in certain parts of the brain, making the decision-making process, as well as managing emotions much harder. Even our ability to cope with changes can be affected by the lack of sleep. Most people need approximately 8 hours of good quality sleep to function at their optimal level.
Different factors influence the quantity and quality of sleep, including some lifestyle habits. Healthy lifestyle habits and good hygiene can make all the difference in terms of quality of life. And one of these little changes that we can make today to improve the quality of sleep is to take up yoga. Yoga relaxes the nervous system, and this can be an essential factor in sleep quality.
The nervous system is in charge of a good night’s sleep. When the nervous system works overtime, it can trigger a decrease in sleep quality and quantity. Because it implies breathing exercises, yoga helps oxygenate and increase the quality of blood that reaches the sleep center in the brain, hence leading to an improved quality of sleep.
Among the many benefits of yoga and meditation, many people notice they are becoming more aware and conscious of their unicity as human beings, and this puts things into perspective. Practicing yoga can make you more responsible for the life you create for yourself and more open to acceptance.
Benefits of Yoga That Are Supported by Science – Healthline
Yoga – Benefits Beyond the Mat – Harvard
The Health Benefits of Yoga – WebMD
Published on June 10, 2019
Last Updated on November 10, 2020