Yoga Benefits Beyond the Mat
When you think of yoga, the first thing that comes to mind is probably people twisting their bodies into impossible positions on a mat in a studio.
While this is undoubtedly one aspect of yoga, it’s far from the only one. There are many benefits to practicing yoga that go beyond the mat. We’ll show you why Yoga is worth incorporating into your life, even if you don’t consider yourself to be particularly flexible!
The practice of yoga has been around for centuries. However, its modern-day popularity is due to a renewed interest in the mind-body connection. So, what is yoga good for? First, it’s excellent at promoting mindfulness. When you’re focused on remaining in the present moment, you’ll experience less stress, better sleep, and a boost in your mental well-being.
The physical benefits are also impressive, as regularly practicing yoga improves your balance, strength, and flexibility.
Whether you’ve tried yoga before or not, there’s never a bad time to incorporate more of it into your life. When you recognize some of the long-term benefits that go beyond the workout itself, you’ll be more inclined to make yoga part of your regular wellness routine.
So, what are those benefits? First, let’s touch on a few different types of yoga, so you can determine which is best for your needs and wants.
Types of Yoga
While there are many different types of yoga, the most common ones include
- Hatha yoga (the most popular)
- Ashtanga yoga
- Iyengar yoga
- Bikram yoga
- Vinyasa yoga
- Kundalini yoga
- Yin yoga
- Restorative Yoga
Hatha is a gentle form of yoga that emphasizes slow and controlled movements. It’s perfect for beginners or people looking for a more relaxing practice. The best part is that any age group can practice it! A typical Hatha yoga class begins with breathing exercises, followed by holding a series of poses for a few breaths each.
Ashtanga is a refreshing form of yoga that combines breathwork, movement, and meditation. It’s a more physically demanding style of yoga that is best suited for intermediate and advanced individuals. If you’re looking to build strength, improve your cardiovascular health, and increase flexibility, Ashtanga yoga is a great option.
Iyengar yoga focuses on precision and proper alignment. This style of yoga is perfect for people who want to focus on their form and improve their flexibility. What’s more, Iyengar yoga is great for people with injuries or chronic pain. Finally, if you’re looking to learn how to do specific poses correctly, this is the style of yoga for you!
Bikram yoga is practiced in many different styles around the world today. The practice consists of 26 postures (asanas) performed in succession without rest between each pose. Bikram yoga can help you sweat out toxins and lose weight. It’s a great way to build strength and flexibility. Practiced in a hot room (usually around 105 degrees Fahrenheit), this type of yoga is challenging but rewarding.
Vinyasa yoga is a type of flow or dynamic yoga where poses are linked together in a sequence to create heat and energy in the body. This style of yoga is perfect for people who are looking for a more challenging workout. What’s more, Vinyasa yoga is adaptable to any level – so it’s ideal for beginners and experienced yogis alike!
Often, this yoga style is associated with spiritual enlightenment. A core component of Kundalini yoga is self-discovery through meditation and poses to awaken the body’s natural power source. As with Vinyasa yoga, Kundalini yoga is adaptable to suit any level.
Yin yoga focuses on stretching the connective tissues in the body. It is a great way to build strength and flexibility. This type of yoga is done in a seated or reclined position and focuses on holding poses for a more extended period.
Restorative Yoga works on restoring the body through gentle stretches. It helps you relax and recover from stress. Restorative yoga is perfect for people who are new to yoga or have injuries they’re trying to overcome.
How to Get Started With Yoga
There is no wrong way to start your yoga journey. You can find classes at a studio or attend a workshop. Additionally, many online resources are available and are easily accessible.
Here are some tips to get you started on your yoga journey.
- Find an instructor who inspires you and helps you learn the basics.
- Be patient and don’t be too hard on yourself as you begin this new journey.
- Go to classes regularly (at least twice per week) to learn the poses correctly.
- Have fun! Yoga should never feel like a chore but rather an opportunity to healthily connect with your body and mind.
Get started on your terms, and challenge yourself without pushing yourself so much that you burn out. When you start a yoga regimen your way, you’ll be more likely to stick with it.
Benefits of Yoga
Now that we know the types of yoga and how to get started, let’s dive into the benefits.
Yoga Increases Flexibility and Strength in Your Muscles
Flexibility is an important component of physical health. Yoga can help you increase your muscle strength and flexibility. Holding a yoga posture for several seconds (or minutes) flexes your muscles and forces you to hold up your own body weight. It may take time to build up the strength needed to hold certain yoga poses. Still, over time, you will notice an improvement in your overall fitness level.
Yoga Helps to Reduce Stress
Stress affects everyone, whether we realize it or not. Stress causes our bodies to produce a stress hormone called cortisol, which can affect how we feel and behave. These hormones can cause headaches, heart palpitations, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and other problems. Practicing yoga reduces stress because it teaches us to control our thoughts and emotions. By learning to breathe deeply, relax, and focus on the present moment, you can better manage your stress.
Yoga Can Alleviate Pain
Pain is something that everyone experiences at some point in their lives. Some types of pain are short-lived, while others last longer. Chronic pain can occur when the nervous system sends messages to the brain telling it that there is a problem somewhere in the body. Practicing yoga helps alleviate chronic pain by teaching you to control your breathing and focus on the sensations during movement. You can use this awareness to identify areas where tension exists and work toward releasing those tensions.
Strength-training With Yoga
Yoga can help you in strength training because it teaches you how to use your body weight to help with resistance. It also improves balance and coordination. As you continue to practice yoga, you will notice an increase in your overall strength. This is because you are using all of the muscles in your body, not just a few isolated muscles like with traditional weightlifting exercises. Additionally, regularly practicing yoga can help prevent injuries when participating in other forms of exercise or physical activities.
Yoga Can Help You Lose Weight
If you’ve tried to lose weight before, you may have been less than thrilled with the results. This is because most people don’t know how to eat properly for their goals and eat too many or not enough calories each day. Since yoga helps reduce stress levels, it can help curb overeating habits. It also encourages a healthy, positive lifestyle, so you can be mindful of what you’re eating each day.
Yoga Helps Improve Your Posture
Poor posture can lead to serious health issues later in life. It can also make you look older than you are. Good posture, on the other hand, makes you look taller, slimmer, and more confident.
When you practice yoga, you learn how to sit and stand up straight. Good posture is one of the foundations of a successful yoga routine. By improving your posture, you will reduce the amount of back and neck pain you experience daily.
Yoga Can Reduce Anxiety And Depression
Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health conditions globally. Anxiety is a feeling of worry or fear that lasts for a short period. Depression is a long-term condition that can cause sadness, hopelessness, and fatigue. Yoga is an effective treatment for both anxiety and depression. The practice helps people focus on the present moment and connect with their inner selves. This improved sense of self-awareness can help you manage your anxiety and depression better.
Yoga Can Improve Sleep Quality
Sleep is essential for maintaining good health and quality of life. However, poor sleep can cause problems like weight gain or loss, fatigue, depression, and anxiety. Yoga can help improve your sleep by reducing stress levels and teaching you relaxation techniques that promote better sleep. Regular yoga practice may also increase the amount of time you spend in the deep-sleep stages every night.
Yoga Can Help Control Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke across all age groups. According to research published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), people who practiced yoga daily had lower blood pressure than those who did not participate during the same period (20 minutes per day). People who practiced yoga had lower blood pressure after one month of daily practice than those who didn’t exercise at all during the same period. More importantly, these benefits were still evident even six months later!
What does this mean for you? Suppose you have high blood pressure or are at risk for developing hypertension (a condition where your systolic number goes above 140 mm Hg). In that case, practicing yoga may be an excellent way to control and manage it. You may even be able to avoid taking medication, though you should always check with your doctor first.
Yoga Can Help Prevent Injury
Injuries happen every day and they can leave you feeling weak and vulnerable, whether they involve sports, accidents, or just everyday wear and tear. However, yoga can help prevent injury.
The practice of yoga involves stretching, strengthening, and relaxation. Stretching and strengthening your muscles prevent injuries caused by overexertion. Relaxation techniques teach you to release tension, giving your muscles time to heal naturally. By combining all three elements of yoga, you can reduce the chances of getting injured.
Yoga Is An Effective Way Of Dealing With PTSD
People with PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) often suffer from flashbacks, intrusive memories, and nightmares. Yoga can help to alleviate some of these symptoms. The practice of yoga allows people to focus on the present moment. As a result, you’re less likely to worry about things out of your control.
Research shows yoga can help decrease heart rate and cortisol levels in people who have PTSD. The less stressed you are, the stronger your immune system will be. You’ll also have better control over your mental well-being.
Yoga Can Make You Happier
Yoga isn’t just good for your body – it’s also good for your mind. Regularly practicing yoga can help you achieve a state of happiness and contentment. It teaches you how to live in the present moment and connect with your inner self. As a result, you’ll be less likely to focus on things beyond your control This increased sense of peace and calmness can make you happier overall.
Yoga Improves Your breathing and Heart Rate
When you breathe deeply, you increase oxygen intake. This allows for more energy production throughout your body. Increased energy means improved stamina and endurance. Since we use our breath to indicate our energy level, this increases our ability to exercise and maintain our fitness routine. In addition, even though you might not notice it, your heart rate increases during a yoga session. This increase reduces the number of stress hormones in your bloodstream, alleviating the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Practicing Yoga Can Ease Asthma Symptoms
Approximately 300 million people across the globe deal with asthma. Many people suffer from severe episodes of wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, and chest tightness. Yoga can help alleviate these symptoms.
Breathing exercises encourage deep breaths, which are essential for regulating airways. Increasing your respiratory capacity can lower your likelihood of suffering from asthma attacks. If you already have asthma, yoga can also help strengthen your lungs and keep them strong.
Yoga Can Make You More Empathetic
Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s emotions and feelings. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Being empathic involves taking note of someone else’s needs, desires, and feelings; understanding that others feel pain, joy, fear, anger, sadness, and love just like you do; and feeling compassion for their situation.” For example, people who regularly practice yoga have shown higher empathy than those who don’t.
If you practice yoga every day for at least 20 minutes, you should see improvements in your empathy within two weeks.
You May Become More Creative
Many people think that creativity and imagination are traits you either have or don’t. However, research shows that regular practice can enhance these skills. For example, a 2018 study in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement found that yoga practitioners scored higher on tests measuring creative thinking than those who did not practice yoga. What’s more interesting is that their brains showed more significant activity in parts of the brain responsible for divergent thinking (coming up with new ideas). This part of the brain is essential in creative problem-solving. So, by concentrating on your breathing patterns, posture, and movements, you can learn to channel your inner creativity.
Yoga Improves Your Balance
“Balance is the ability to maintain your body’s center of gravity over its base of support.” This means that good balance allows you to remain upright and steady, even on uneven or slippery surfaces. When you practice yoga regularly, your muscles become stronger, giving you more control over your movements. This increased muscle strength leads to improved stability and balance. Strong core muscles also help with other types of physical activity, such as running and dancing.
Yoga Can Increase Your Confidence
Many people struggle with low self-esteem. Research shows that yoga can boost confidence, due to the effect it has on the brain.
The amygdala is a part of the brain responsible for our fight-or-flight response. Amygdala activity decreases when we meditate. Therefore, the more often you practice yoga, the less likely it is that you will experience negative emotions.
Yoga Is Fun
The word “fun” doesn’t often come to mind when you think about yoga. That’s because most people associate yoga with extreme poses and contortions. However, yoga isn’t always about stretching or bending over backward. Instead, it’s about finding the balance between strength and flexibility. Strength training and stretching exercises enhance each other by working together, allowing you to get stronger and stretch further. So no matter what form of yoga appeals to you, you can find the fun in it.
The Long-Term Benefits You Deserve
As you can see, yoga benefits go far beyond the mat. Along with improving your physical health, yoga also provides mental and emotional benefits. Increased flexibility, strength, balance, and self-confidence are just some of the rewards awaiting those who take up this practice. If you are looking for an activity to add to your routine, give yoga a try!
For more information on how to incorporate yoga into your everyday life and natural environment, check out Yoga Kawa.