Although some may view yoga as just another way to exercise, yoga is that much and more. First developed in India, yoga is a mindful, spiritual practice that poses several health benefits, not only physical, but also mental and emotional.
Here are just five of the many benefits of yoga:
1. Increases Strength in Your Muscles
While yoga doesn’t involve any high-intensity, gasping-for-air moves, it does give your body a good workout. The different positions you hold during a session, such as "downward-facing dog" and the "chair pose," promote muscle strength. There are positions for advanced yogis, too, such as "crow," in which you are required to lift your entire body. Who needs to weight train when you can do this kind of workout?
2. Improves Your Flexibility
As you continue practicing yoga, you’ll gradually become more flexible, because much of yoga involves stretching. This could be advantageous for people who have back issues or any other ailments, as well as for those who are simply trying to live a healthier, more mindful life. Stretch the body—stretch the mind!
3. Encourages Good Posture
From slouching in your chair to locking your knees, there are many causes of poor posture. Unfortunately for those who sit at a desk all day, you’re likely to feel the negative effects. That’s why your lower back hurts every day after work, why your neck is bothering you, and quite possibly why you’re not digesting food properly—as discussed in a 2016 New York Times article. It is all connected to bad posture. Yoga helps improve your posture, which could reduce discomfort in your spine or joints, and decreases the chance digestive problems, too.
4. Elevates Your Self-Awareness
Yoga helps to achieve a greater self-awareness, self-discipline, as well as assisting in finding your inner balance. This could help to enhance your mental and emotional strength, which can lead to greater overall health and quality of life.
5. Helps You De-Stress
Because yoga focuses on relaxation and reflection, it may aid in lowering your stress levels. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research and shared by the U.S. National Library of Medicine reports that participants who practiced yoga for 12 weeks saw more of a decrease in blood pressure, heart rate, and myocardial oxygen consumption compared to participants who did not.