Are you one of the many people who don’t know what the health benefits of yoga are?

We all know that exercise is good for us. You’ve probably heard it a thousand times on television, from friends and maybe your doctor’s told you to get more exercise too.

There are few fitness programs that offer broad scope health benefits. For example, running strengthens your cardiovascular system but is not recommended for building muscle.

Yoga is one of the few fitness programmes that can accomplish both and much more.

Yoga is a way of life. It is a practice which can change everything you do. It can improve the way you use your mind and your body, the way you interact with others, literally everything.

You could write a book on the benefits it offers different individuals, however here are four main benefits of yoga.

Benefits of Yoga #1 Increased Mobility and Flexibility

As you age ( and we’re talking about once you’ve passed that 25-year mark), your body begins to lose some of its mobility.

Your muscles can become short and tight. Your tendons can stiffen and your joints may often feel sore. When this happens, simple day-to-day movements can become painful or difficult. You may not be able to touch your toes.

When you walk long distances you may notice that your back aches. And if you try to reach over your head to put something away you may feel pain in your neck or shoulders. This is due to a lack of mobility.

Yoga can improve your mobility, meaning it can help lengthen those tight muscles and tendons. It can give you a better range of motion so that when you move your body, you do it in the most efficient and effective way possible. Not only will you feel better, you’ll stop having those awful aches and pains.

Frequently people declare: “I’m not flexible enough to do yoga.” In truth, lack of flexibility is a perfect reason to do yoga.

health benefits of yoga - flexibility
So what if you’re the only one in the class who can’t bend forwards, backwards, or any way in fact. Practising yoga will increase your flexibility and allow you to improve your range of movement.

Tight hamstrings can cause severe back pain and postural problems. Tight hips can put strain on your knees, tight shoulders can cause headaches.

By practising yoga, your flexibility will improve and your body will thank you for it. You will start to rid yourself of aches and pains and find everyday activities gradually become easier.

Benefits of Yoga #2 Improved Muscle Strength

health benefits of yoga include improve muscle strength

One of the great benefits of yoga is that it can make you look better and improve your overall level of fitness.

Yoga often requires you to hold a position for a long period of time. And in most cases you’re supporting your full body weight. This requires you to build great strength.

Most yoga positions require strength from your large muscle groups, for example your core muscles. As these muscles increase in strength you’ll find this will benefit other areas of your life.

Your posture will improve. You’ll be stronger, physically, and thus able to lift and carry more than you used to.

You’ll build muscle which burns fat. Not only do strong, toned muscles look good, they also help to protect our body from aches and pains. Yoga has also been proven to prevent arthritis, osteoporosis and back pain.

Yoga asanas work to strengthen and lengthen our body. The postures are low impact, meaning there is far less risk of injury when practising properly than if you were to be lifting weights or taking part in other strengthening exercises.

You’ll also lower your risk of heart attack, improve cardiovascular conditioning and increase your endurance levels.

Benefits of Yoga #3 Reduced Stress & Tension

Yoga requires a few things that impact and reduce your stress level. The first stress-reducing component is breathing.

Many yoga styles have a structured breathing protocol. When you focus on your breathing, it automatically lowers cortisol (a stress hormone) and it lowers your heart rate.

reduced stress is one of the health benefits of yoga

Additionally, yoga requires great focus. Some poses not only ask you to hold your body in a balanced position, they also ask you to pay attention to your body and make slight adjustments to improve the pose.

You’re looking inward and focusing solely on your body and the very moment you’re in. This focus reduces stress. It’s akin to meditation and it’s wonderful for the health of your body and your mind.

Often in life we hold tension in our mind and body without even realizing we are doing so. This tension puts our body under stress, causing unnecessary pains and problems.

Yoga teaches you to be aware of your body and you begin to notice where you hold your tensions: neck, face, shoulders, eyes, quads – anywhere.

By being aware, and by practising yoga asanas, we are able to release these tensions.

Benefits of Yoga #4 Aids Weight Loss

There are many different types of yoga  and some aid weight loss more than others. Fitness yoga, power yoga and anti-gravity yoga are excellent ways to enhance this weight loss.

However, most yoga practices do increase your heart rate and burn calories to some degree, resulting in weight loss or weight maintenance.  Just because you’re not running around, working up a sweat, don’t think you’re not aiding your weight loss goal.

Other benefits of yoga include:

Stabilisation of blood pressure, improving your mood and reducing anxiety & depression. Yoga can lower your blood sugar levels, preventing diabetes, as well as improve stability, posture and balance, preventing falls.

Yoga practice helps to keep your mind healthy and focused, reducing the ageing process. Yoga and meditation can help you to sleep deeper, it strengthens your immune system, maintains your central nervous system, increases lung capacity, self esteem and inner strength.

Is there any reason not to start practising yoga?