If you’re looking to improve your health, yoga is a great option. It’s a mind-body practice that combines physical poses, controlled breathing and meditation or relaxation.
Regular yoga practice can be beneficial in several areas of wellness, such as general health, mental/emotional wellbeing and sleep. Read on to learn more about five of these areas and how yoga can help you achieve them.
Flexibility is a key component to both your physical and emotional health. It helps you perform everyday tasks that require your body to move, like turning your head sideways or bending over.
It can also help prevent injury and reduce the risk of back pain. However, it can be a challenge to improve your flexibility.
Fortunately, yoga can help you reach your goal of improved flexibility. It does take time and dedication, but the results can be seen over time.
There are several different types of yoga that can help you achieve increased flexibility, including Hatha, Vinyasa flow and Yin. Yin styles often hold poses for longer to allow the muscles to fully stretch, which can increase your overall flexibility.
The amount of time it takes to improve your flexibility depends on your age, fitness level and the frequency of your practice. But you should see results within 3 to 6 months of regular practice.
The circulatory system is responsible for bringing oxygen and nutrients to the body, expelling waste and carrying hormones to cells. When blood circulation is poor, it can lead to numbness, aches and pains, memory glitches, hair loss, breakouts, fluid retention and swelling.
One of the easiest ways to improve circulation is through movement. Yoga postures can be a great way to move and stretch while improving the function of your circulatory system.
Inversions and poses that expand your chest and rib cage are the best as they stimulate your heart and help it pump more efficiently. This is especially important for those who have heart disease or high blood pressure, as these postures can help reduce stress and the associated hormones that could block arteries.
Increased Immune System
The immune system is your body’s natural defense against illness. It’s designed to protect the body from infection and disease by preventing the growth of bacteria, viruses and fungi.
To keep your immunity strong, eat nutritious foods and get plenty of sleep. It also helps to lower your stress levels and practice yoga regularly.
According to one study, regular yoga practice can improve your immune system and help prevent illnesses by decreasing the levels of inflammation.
Researchers at NTNU discovered that practicing deep belly breathing, such as the breath-holding technique known as pranayama, can strengthen your white blood cells — neutrophils. These cells are the immune system’s “killer cells” that attack invaders.
It’s important to do this exercise for at least 30 minutes a day to reap the full benefits of the exercise. Other ways to boost your immune system include exercising regularly and getting enough rest. You can also eat foods rich in flavonoids, which may boost your immune system.
Stress is one of the most common health complaints, but many people don’t know how to manage it effectively. Yoga is a mind-body exercise that trains your body and mind to be more resilient to stress.
It trains your counter-stress response system called the parasympathetic nervous system to slow down your autonomic nervous system. This is a key part of fighting off chronic stress and can help you better tolerate it as you age.
Yoga also uses deep breathing techniques to calm your sympathetic nervous system, the opposite of the fight-or-flight stress response. When you’re feeling anxious, your breath becomes shallow and cortisol levels increase.
In addition, yoga can reduce stress-related symptoms and improve sleep by lowering cortisol and increasing oxygen supply to the brain. It can also lower blood pressure and improve vascular health.