Lowers blood pressure… increases flexibility… reduces stress…increases muscle strength…improves posture… calms the mind… decreases risk of injury…boosts immunity… cardio workout…
Yes, you guessed it. These, among many others, are some of the benefits of yoga. Through regular practice, you can actively improve your health on a multitude of levels. Yoga is incredible. It can transform you from anxiety and depression to a place of serenity and strength.
The physical benefits of yoga seem easier to comprehend – stretching the body once a week will lead to better flexibility, balancing poses will tone muscles, practicing back bends safely will increase spine health and stability.
So what about the mental benefits such as reducing stress?
How does it do this?
When we practice yoga, we start to focus on the movements of our body. When we combine breath and movement, we start to tap into the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). This then begins to slow the heart and lower the blood pressure, and we feel stress relieving effects through the body.
Have you ever been told to take deep breaths? And subsequently felt a calming sensation through the body? Well you are essentially engaging the PNS and telling your heart and mind to chill. We feel immediately softer somehow…
Well this goes further with regular practice.
Regular practice reduces stress long term. Stress adversely affects long term diseases and illnesses, regular yoga can help to reduce these issues (1). Therefore, when we practice yoga, the body starts to stimulate the PNS, calming the body and mind.
Try it for yourself, find a yoga class near you and try tuning in with your breath, you will feel the benefits after just one class.
(1) Dr. Timothy McCall Yoga as Medicine (Bantam Dell)