The most renowned benefit of yoga. Many believe it takes up to an hour a day to improve your flexibility. But just 15 minutes a day can lead to drastic improvements. Yoga poses enable your body to stretch and lengthen your muscles, allowing them to relax. Meaning they no longer cause tension on your tendons and ligaments, helping injury prevention.
Increased strength is almost a hidden benefit of yoga, as people assume it is just for stretching muscles. Yoga improves your strength due to many poses requiring you to support your own bodyweight. For example, Downward-Facing Dog enables you to gain functional strength in your core and shoulders as your support your bodyweight.
As we have mentioned previously, practising yoga can improve any muscular imbalances you may have. In particular, yoga’s ability to strengthen back muscles enables you to pull back your shoulders. This prevents rounded shoulders which are often caused by staying seated for too long. Another problem with poor posture is that it results in a tight chest, which brings the shoulders forward even more. Beginner yoga poses such as Upward-Facing Dog not only stretch the abdomen, but also stretch your chest muscles too.
Anyone that has started yoga, will know this amazing benefit of yoga and the impact it has on your life. The positive mental space will allow you to feel more connected to your body. The heightened awareness allows you to unite the mind, body and spirit to bring you into the present moment. This enables you to have a deeper understanding of your body’s needs, resulting in healthier life choices, from improving your diet to quitting smoking.
If you’re looking to get fit and active again after lockdown, Gentle Yoga Flow is a great place to start!
This follows on from the mindfulness benefit, as you become present in the moment, you worry less about the little things in life. You will realise, they are not worth your energy, and this will reduce stress levels. The ability to centre yourself, by focusing on your breathing, extends far beyond yoga. Once you master this, you can use it throughout the day, any time and any place. Practising yoga, has been shown to reduce the secretion of cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress response in your body. Here is a study to support this. Reduced cortisol and muscle tension results in you feeling energised physically and mentally.
Lowers Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is linked to high stress levels and can lead to heart attacks and strokes. The deep breathing and stillness of yoga is thought to lower blood pressure as you go through your routine. This makes it a great activity to practice just before bed, leaving you feeling relaxed and ready for sleep. Poses such as Sukhasana and Coprse Pose are great resting poses for lowering blood pressure, as they don’t require you to support your body weight, allowing you to rest fully.
Lowers Blood Sugar
Yoga is thought to reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol levels. This is known to lower blood sugar and blood pressure levels. Practising yoga improves the body’s sensitivity to insulin, meaning it is great for those who have diabetes. This study shows that when your body has a low sensitivity to insulin, it results in weight gain. This is due to the body’s altered insulin response. Resting poses encourage relaxation which may promote the production of beta cells. Beta cells produce, store and release insulin, the hormone for controlling blood sugar levels.
Increased Flow of Blood and Synovial Fluid
Yoga facilitates the lengthening and stretching of tight muscles, allowing blood to move into all parts of your body. This increased blood flow enables your body to provide the nutrients to injured areas, speeding up the recovery process. Yoga sequences move your joints through their full range of motion which increases the flow of synovial fluid. Synovial fluid is responsible for lubricating the joints, improving joint movement, and supplying nutrients and oxygen. The controlled breathing aspect of yoga practice supports the transport of oxygen within the body. This helps maintain healthy joints, reduce inflammation and can improve serious movement problems caused by arthritis, as shown in this study.
More Efficient Immune System
Yoga practice is an amazing tool for creating an environment to optimise the body’s innate ability to heal itself. In appropriate conditions, the body has an increased ability to restore health and fight diseases. Heightened stress levels and a disturbed nervous system can comprise the body’s immune system. However, due to increased blood flow, lengthening and stretching of muscles, and the effect of mindfulness, the body is in more of a settled state. Meaning it is better equipped to deal with the body’s adversities.
Yoga is very versatile in the sense that you can do it at any point in the day. You can do it in the morning to centre yourself and set yourself up for the day, or you can do it at night for a great night sleep. Many people have trouble sleeping, or have insomnia, due to the stress and worry that life brings upon them. Due to the improved mental health, the body’s stress hormone levels are much lower after a yoga session. A loose body just before bed also ensures that you are in a relaxed state and better prepared for sleep. Meaning you will sleep faster and longer, feeling more refreshed in the morning. This is one of many studies supporting that, yoga before bed can combat insomnia.
If you have no experience with yoga, check out our other blog post Top 10 Yoga Poses for Beginners to put together the perfect routine for you!