Yoga has become a very popular activity that many of us would like to try—maybe you have already! There are plenty of benefits from doing yoga, some of which you may have experienced if you’ve tried out a few classes at your local gym, or if you’ve followed some videos online.
You might think that there are only physical benefits to doing yoga, but there are also many benefits for the mind. There are many benefits to be gained from yoga, so if you’re intrigued, or you want to get back into it, then these are some of the plus points for trying it out.
Yoga can improve balance and flexibility
There’s plenty of research that backs the benefit of yoga for improved flexibility and balance, showing that it can boost your performance by using certain poses that target these areas. One study looked at the effect on 26 male college athletes who practiced yoga for 10 weeks, and it significantly increased a number of measures of balance and flexibility when compared to those in the control group.
Another study looked at 66 elderly patients who practiced either yoga or calisthenics (a body weight exercise). The total flexibility of those who did yoga increased by nearly four times after a year, compared to those in the calisthenics group.
Yoga reduces stress
There are many studies that show that yoga can decrease the secretion of cortisol, which is the primary stress hormone. One study showed the effect of yoga on stress, and followed 24 women who saw themselves as emotionally distressed. After a three-month yoga program, their cortisol levels were significantly lower.
Another study of 131 people also showed that 10 weeks of yoga helped to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as improve quality of life and mental health. So yoga can be a great way of keeping stress in check—used either on its own or with other methods.
Regulates your adrenal glands
Adrenal glands secrete cortisol when responding to an acute crisis, which temporarily boosts your immune system. If these levels stay high after a crisis, then your immune system can be compromised, which can then undermine your memory and could lead to permanent changes in your brain.
Excessive cortisol has been linked with major depression, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and osteoporosis. High cortisol levels in rats leads to food-seeking behavior, which drives you to eat when you’re stressed, angry, or upset. Those extra calories are then distributed as fat in the abdomen, which can contribute to weight gain and a risk of heart attack and diabetes.
Your focus can improve
An important part of yoga is to focus on the present. There are studies that show that regular yoga improves coordination, reaction times, and memory. Those who practice transcendental meditation show the ability to better solve problems, and recall and acquire information. This could be because they’re less distracted by their thoughts, which can play over in the mind.
Yoga protects your spinal health
Your spinal disks need movement, which is the only way that these shock absorbers between the vertebrae can get nutrients. Yoga can help you to keep your disks supple with plenty of twists, backbends, and forward bends.