Yoga is the settling of the mind into silence. When the mind has settled, we are established in our essential nature, which is unbounded Consciousness. Our essential nature is usually overshadowed by the activity of the mind. – Patanjali
The ancient practice of yoga can be traced back thousands of years. Since its beginnings in northern India, it has spread throughout the world and has morphed into many different styles formed from the ideas of many different gurus, but all of yoga still has something important in common—its benefits.
No matter how old you are or what kind of physical condition your find yourself in there is a yoga style that suits you. Starting a practice can be a life-changing endeavor that will improve your mental and physical health.
Here are 29 benefits of yoga to encourage you to start a yoga practice this year.
People who practice yoga regularly report improved quality of sleep. Higher quality sleep helps your body and mind function better throughout the day. People who get a good night’s sleep are more productive and happier.
Yoga uses your own body weight to build lean strong muscles at any age. The movements done during a practice activate muscles you may not use regularly in your daily life.
Getting into all those yoga poses stretches out tight still muscles. Loose flexible muscles are healthy muscles that are less vulnerable to injury.
Mobility is always important but as we age we tend to have issues with mobility and balance that contribute to falling injuries. Older people have some improvements in mobility and balance when they start a regular yoga practice.
When you practice yoga, you do balancing postures. These postures don’t just improve balance they also improve foot and ankle strength.
The combination of breathing and movement you do when you practice yoga helps balance hormones and boost the hormones that make you feel good. In turn, this lowers your stress and anxiety helping with depression and general happiness levels.
Teaches you to live in the present moment
Yoga is a kind of moving meditation. As you practice you focus on the combination of your movements and breath to stay grounded in the moment.
85% of people who practice report that they use yoga for stress relief. It also eases anxiety. Yoga calms the nervous system through the use of deep breathing and movement.
Motivates you to make other health improvements
People who practice yoga say that it has motivated them to take further steps to take care of their bodies like eating better and getting additional exercise.
The combined benefits of yoga including increased mobility, improved circulation, and decreased inflammation all contribute to relieve chronic pain. Yoga has been found to decrease the pain of conditions like arthritis, low back pain, fibromyalgia, and other chronic pain conditions.
Yoga connects your breathing to your movements. Deep controlled breathing is part of the practice and as you continue to practice, you’ll find your breath capacity and your ability to control your breath improve.
Gives you a sense of inner peace
Yoga teaches you to use breath to help regulate your emotional state. It also helps you feel a deeper connection between yourself and the world around you.
People who practice yoga have more body confidence. The principles of yoga teach you to accept yourself as you are and not to compare yourself to others.
Improves your posture
Yoga stretches and lengthens muscles freeing up vertebrae and giving you the ability to stand up straighter.
People who practice yoga as little as 20 minutes per day report that they are better able to focus when performing other tasks and can remember things more easily.
After people practice yoga anti-inflammation markers in their blood decrease and pro-inflammatory markers decrease.
Helps you get in touch with your body
The regular practice of movement increases body awareness and helps you get in touch with your body in a healthy way.
The movement of your muscles increases blood flow providing your cells with more life-giving oxygen and helping your feel better physically.
Gives your immune system a boost
Lowering your stress hormones boosts your immune system helping your body fight disease more effectively.
Regulates your energy
You can use yoga to give you a natural boost when you’re feeling tired and to help you unwind at the end of the day.
Helps you feel good all over
People who practice consistently report feeling better after completing a practice.
Regular movement practice boosts your metabolism helping your body burn more energy.
Improves spine health
In yoga you move your spine in ways you might not in normal daily life, improving circulation to back muscles and the movement of craniosacral fluid.
Helps you to get to know yourself
Coming back to the practice again and again teaches you some important lessons about yourself. As you practice you’ll notice the way you approach your practice mirrors the way you approach life.
The movement yoga requires keeps your joints naturally lubricated and keeps the blood flowing slowing down the breakdown of your joints as you age.
The weight-bearing and balancing postures help improve bone density.
Drains your lymphatic system
Your lymphatic system depends on the movements of your muscles to push lymph throughout your body. The way yoga encourages you to move in ways you normally wouldn’t helps push more lymph through your system.
The calming breathing and movement of yoga calms your nervous system and lowers your blood pressure.
Gives you a sense of belonging
Yoga is practiced by people all over the world and there is a community of people who are dedicated to the practice. When you start to practice you become part of that community. Attending yoga classes helps connect you to others.