It’s no secret that exercise has a positive impact on our bodies, but when it comes to choosing a physical activity that will have the most beneficial results for you personally, we have a feeling the choice will always be the same: yoga. It’s not that we believe that yoga is the “best” type of exercise; however, the benefits of this practice are so wide-ranging that there’s almost no health issues that it can’t help!
In general, there are five main pillars of life in which we see the benefits of yoga: these pillars are our physical bodies, our mental function, our emotional well-being, our lifestyles, and our balance. Within these overarching pillars, the impact of yoga stretches far and wide, touching every aspect of our lives.
In order to further explore the benefits of this activity, we’ve delved deeper into each of these five pillars to see how they are affected by yoga!
1. The Physical Body
After practicing yoga for even a small amount of time, one will experience a changed body. Deep breathing, an important aspect of yoga, expands our lungs and helps distribute oxygen to all of our organs, and also helps to slow our heart rate. After just one class, our adrenal glands respond by reducing the amount of cortisol in our bodies, helping us to relax and even avoid snacking! Plus, practicing varying yoga poses can improve strength, agility, and flexibility.
2. Mental Function
The deep breathing mentioned above provides benefits, not only for our physical bodies, but also for our mental activity. Taking slow, long belly breaths increases cognitive activity and can actually make us smarter! Consider what your brain is doing in a yoga class: telling your eyes and ears to watch and listen to the instructor, memorizing the patterns of the movement, and – of course – commanding your body to move in the ways it’s asked to! Yoga is like physical activity for the brain, allowing it to practice its job in the most effective way possible.
3. Emotional Health
Our emotional health is directly linked to our mental function, so it makes sense that yoga would have an impact on both of them. By combining its effects on our bodies and brains, yoga works with our hormones and neurotransmitters to promote positive thoughts and feelings. For example, by increasing GABA levels, low levels of which are associated with depression, yoga helps us feel good! While we recommend making an appointment with a physician if you’re experiencing symptoms of mental illness, yoga can be a great way to decrease depressive or anxious thoughts.
While many people take up new physical activities in order to lose weight, burning calories is just one of the ways in which yoga helps us establish a healthy lifestyle. When one combines yoga’s effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health, it’s easy to see how it can help us avoid snacking on junk (think: stress eating). Other bad habits, such as excessive drinking or smoking, can also be overcome by turning to yoga instead, especially if its spiritual aspect is incorporated into your practice. Think of yoga as not only exercise, but also as some time for self care.
Of course, yoga undoubtedly encourages our muscles to stronger, promoting physical balance (headstand anyone?), but yoga also creates an additional type of balance within our bodies: homeostasis. For example, by slowing down our mental processes, we can more successfully establish a more constant state of emotional health, reducing bouts of stress, anxiety, and fear. Plus, yoga encourages homeostasis in blood pressure, heart rate, and hormones. Basically, yoga is like a reset button for your body!
Whether just one, or all of these pillars resonate with you, we recommend giving yoga a shot. A simple, steady practice can drastically improve your health!
Article courtesy of Sunburst Superfoods.