15 Anti-Aging Health Benefits of Yoga

While age does affect you in various ways, there’s a lot you can do to limit its impact on your body. Yoga is an excellent anti-aging tool. It is capable of relieving symptoms and in some cases improve medical outcomes. It doesn’t matter where you’re starting from or how old you are. Movement and yoga can help.

Along with smile lines and gray hair, aging brings changes that are harder to see but very easy to feel, especially during movement. As you age, you’ll encounter general physiological changes in elasticity, stability, speed, strength, and endurance, as well as a different perspective on physical goals. Specific health problems emerge as we age, and these age-related illnesses might affect your yoga practice. Here, we offer our thoughts on how to modify your practice for these common ailments, and we detail the ways that (in some cases) yoga can actually relieve symptoms or has been proven to improve medical outcomes. From heart issues to less lung capacity, decreased bone density to hormonal changes, and bad backs to artificial knees, physical changes will affect and dictate the needs of a yoga asana practice, but in all cases, doing yoga will make you feel better.

Bad News

So, as you age, your body becomes less flexible, less stable, slower, weaker, and less competitive in endurance. With age you lose elasticity in your muscle and (as you can see in a mirror) skin. This results in generally less flexibility, which can translate to instability and stiffness. Muscle loss and bone loss are common aspects of aging. Both can contribute to less strength, speed, and endurance. While it does get harder to build muscle with age, it’s not impossible, and it’s never too late. Exercise and yoga help you maintain the muscle mass you have and continue to add more. Whether you suffer from bone loss or not, it may have as much to do with genetics and gender as it does with your physical activity level, but movement and weight-bearing exercises keep bones healthier for longer.

This information probably doesn’t come as a surprise, though; we tend to be well versed in the changes that come with aging, especially as we get older. The good news is that you also have all the attendant wisdom, confidence, and life experience of your years on earth. And let’s be honest: while it might be nice to still have the body of a twenty-one-year-old, we know few people who actually want to be twenty-one again (we certainly don’t!). Besides, the news gets even better: while age does affect you in various ways, much of it is in your hands, and there’s a lot you can do to limit the effect of age-related changes. Yoga is an excellent anti-aging tool. It doesn’t matter where you’re starting from or at what age you begin, movement and yoga can help.

yog pose

 

15 Health Benefits of Yoga for Aging Adults

These 15 Anti-Aging Health Benefits of Yoga that will make you want to start practicing now

1. Osteoporosis/Osteopenia

Problem: As you age, your bone density decreases. For some people, this decrease is so great, it results in osteopenia or osteoporosis, which means their bones are more susceptible to fractures.
How yoga can help: Weight-bearing exercises can marginally increase bone density, although the gains are small. Still, yoga is valuable not only because of its potential effect on your physical skeleton but because it helps you build muscle, body awareness, and better balance.
Tips for your yoga practice: Weight-bearing lunge poses, like Warrior I, Warrior II, and Side Angle Pose, help build hip and leg strength; balancing poses like crane, tree, and Warrior III help protect against falls that can cause fractures in already-brittle bones.

Because bone density loss makes your spine more fragile, be sure to consult your medical practitioner to create a plan of safe movements. Depending on the degree of your osteopenia, it might be wise to limit poses that require folding forward or minimize the degree to which you fold. The same is true of poses that require twisting. Be gentle in approaching movements that cause your spine to rotate, or skip twisting poses all together.

2. Arthritis

Problem: Arthritis can cause daily pain in joints like hands, knees, wrists, or elbows. It can make you feel stiff and creaky, limiting comfortable range of motion.
How yoga can help: Recent research shows that a regular yoga practice can aid in reducing joint pain and help in improving joint flexibility. A regular yoga practice might also reduce inflammation.
Tips for your yoga practice: Avoid weight bearing in your hands and wrists, a common location of arthritis pain.

 

3. Spinal Stenosis

Problem: Spinal stenosis, the narrowing of the spinal canal or vertebral openings, can squeeze your spinal cord and cause radiating pain and numbness that affects your hips, legs, and even your shoulders.
How yoga can help: A yoga practice that cautiously approaches forward folds and side bending and avoids extension (back-bending) poses can help significantly reduce pain.
Tips for your yoga practice: If you have stenosis and osteoporosis, you might avoid forward folds altogether. In general, avoid big, deep movements of the spine. Less is better. Safe yoga, though, can help you build strength and create better postural habits, which can help alleviate chronic pain. An experienced teacher with knowledge of your condition will be a powerful ally.

 

4. Disc issues

Problem: Herniated, bulging, or slipped discs can press on your spinal cord or nearby nerves, causing spasms, limited movement, and radiating pain. Disc issues and back pain are more common in the lower lumbar region but may occur anywhere along the spine.
How yoga can help: Yoga can help you build core strength and flexibility in your spine, and these two things can go a long way toward remedying back pain.
Tips for your yoga practice: If you experience pain from disc issues, often it is best to avoid forward folds or any pose that causes your spine to round, as this can exacerbate the issue by squeezing the disc more. Instead, focus on back-bending poses and poses that challenge your abdominal muscles and strengthen your hips.

 

5. Core Strength and Back Pain

If you’ve ever experienced back pain, you’ve probably been given the advice to strengthen your core. Building up the muscles in your trunk, back, abdomen, hips, and legs means that your spine is better supported.
How yoga can help: Any new movement or exercise that you add to your daily life will likely result in a stronger core; as you move your body in new ways, your major stabilizing muscles have to adapt. Yoga also offers specific poses for core strength.

 

6. Nerve Issues: Pain, Neuropathy

Problem: When nerves are injured, pain, weakness, numbness, cramping, or tingling can occur as a result. In peripheral neuropathy, this often occurs in limbs, hands, feet, fingers, and toes. Nerve issues can result from a myriad of illnesses. Often caused by circulatory system issues, neuropathy also can be a side effect of other diseases or injuries.
How yoga can help: Yoga poses improve circulation; movement alone can help! Body awareness is also key.
Tips for your yoga practice: The more you are aware of what exacerbates or helps with pain or numbness, the better you are at making wise choices with your movement practices. Yoga allows you to explore your body in slow, safe movements. It gives you the opportunity to get to know what works for your nerves. Be sure to move slowly and pay careful attention to your body’s response in each pose.

 

7. Ligament Tears

Problem: Ligament tears are common in aging, stressed, and over-used joints, especially knees, shoulders, hips, and ankles. As we age, we put increasing stress on these joints, which can result in abrasions and tears. If the ligaments give out, or if the joint is degraded, you may find yourself with a replacement.
How yoga can help: Yoga is useful for ligament issues in several ways: First, yoga helps you strengthen the muscles around your joints. Your knees, for instance, will be better protected if your hamstrings, glutes, and quadriceps are strong. Many common yoga lunge poses help keep your legs strong. Yoga is also useful if you are recovering from a ligament tear injury, as it allows you to continue moving even amidst injury.
Tips for your yoga practice: You should choose a gentler practice as you heal, and omit any poses that exacerbate your injury. Finally, yoga is adaptable enough to continue even if you experience a hip or knee replacement. You’ll be able to come back to a yoga practice, and doing yoga after a replacement (with your medical team’s approval) may even speed up the healing process.

8. Tendonitis/Tendonopathy

Problem: Although it’s often a temporary condition, tendon inflammation can cause joint pain and stiffness, and it can also create instability in weight-bearing movements. And as tendons age they can degrade, a condition known as tendonopathy.
How yoga can help: Acute tendonitis generally requires some days of rest. But after allowing time to heal, yoga can be useful in helping establish new movement patterns. Because tendonitis is often caused by repetitive movements, practicing a variety of yoga poses offers you a chance to continue movement.  But in some ways, shoring up the muscles around the tendon gives the inflamed areas a chance to heal.
Tips for your yoga practice: If your health-care team diagnoses tendonopathy, ask which movements are safe and which you should avoid, then follow their directions in your home practice and convey them to your yoga teacher in class. Because of yoga’s adaptability, you will be able to find poses and sequences that continue to work for you.

 

9. Myofascial tightening, stiffness due to decreased collagen

Problem: As we age, we lose flexibility in our muscles and connective tissue, which results in stiffness, imbalance, and less confidence while balancing.
How yoga can help: If you don’t use it, you lose it! A regular yoga practice can help reverse some of that acquired stiffness. Gentle, regular stretching can help keep your body fluid and flexible. We’re often as amazed as our yoga students when we see the changes that habitual stretching and movement can confer. You don’t have to touch your toes, but yoga might get you a little closer to them.

 

10. Hormonal Changes/Hot Flashes

Problem: In women, menopause can bring temperature changes and hot flashes.
How yoga can help: Some studies have shown that a restorative yoga practice can help decrease the hot flashes that can come with hormonal changes.
Tips for your yoga practice: During a yoga class, it can also be helpful to lighten the amount of clothing you’re wearing or dress in layers so that when you feel warm, you can peel off a longer-sleeved shirt. Some yoga classes are warmer than other others. If you plan to attend a class, ask in advance about the temperature of the room.

 

11. Blood pressure

Problem: High blood pressure is one of the most common ailments that affect adults as they age. One in three American adults has high blood pressure. Rapidly transitioning from standing upright to folding forward can exacerbate dizziness, a common symptom of low blood pressure and a side effect of common medications for high blood pressure.
How yoga can help: Some studies show that regular yoga can lower blood pressure, so a routine yoga practice will help.
Tips for your yoga practice: As you move, avoid transitions that put your head below your heart, and opt out of sequences that require you to move quickly from standing to forward folding.

 

12. Asthma

Problem: Age-related lung changes can aggravate asthma, so as you age, bouts of asthma may increase.
How yoga can help: If your asthma is provoked by exercise, yoga is a good fit, since with yoga your heart rate stays relatively low.
Tips for your yoga practice: Keep in mind that in some classes yoga teachers use essential oils or incense to enhance the students’ experience. While this is a lovely intention, if you are asthmatic, strong scents can be triggering. It’s appropriate to ask in advance if these types of scents will be used in class and to request that they be omitted. Calling ahead to verify this may be the wisest choice.

 

13. Chronic Bronchitis, Emphysema, COPD

Problem: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, and emphysema make breathing very challenging and limit your ability to do cardiovascular activities.
How yoga can help: Yoga is low impact. For this reason, it is a useful movement practice if you have COPD or similar respiratory problems. Additionally, a yoga practice often has pranayama, or breath practices. Focusing on inhaling and exhaling can be useful if you have a chronic breathing problem, since breathing exercises can potentially help strengthen muscles used in respiration. Time spent in mindful breathing can also help you have more awareness of your breath; noticing when you get breathless or when you feel short of breath can help you seek treatment quickly.

14. Insomnia and Sleep Issues

Problem: Night wakefulness or restlessness may disrupt sleep.
How yoga can help:Intentional, slow breathing can foster a sense of relaxation and calm. A slow yoga and stretching routine before bed can help encourage drowsiness and tranquility. In fact, studies show that yoga can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Exercise of any type helps tire us out and promotes exhaustion, which can lead to better quality sleep.

 

15. Chronic Illness

Problem: Chronic illness can cause pain and hopelessness and may create limitations to practicing yoga.
How yoga can help: Yoga can be effective as a pain-management tool for painful diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. Since yoga is so adaptable, it can be practiced in a chair or in a hospital bed. It may also be a helpful meditative tool for those diagnosed with a terminal illness.

The Yoga Rule You Need to Follow

The Yoga Sutras contain bits of wisdom and yoga philosophy. This text is one of the earliest yoga books. Regarding yoga poses, the sutras don’t say much. Yoga sutra 2.46 tells us simply that yoga poses should be steady and comfortable. Knowing that this is the only prescription for the poses frees us from feeling like our yoga practice has to look a certain way. A yoga student can do a handstand, or not; a lunge, or not; a balance pose, or not. Your practice is your practice. Find strength and ease, and do what works for you.

 

Source: yogajournal

Best Yoga Poses For Anxiety Relief

Anybody who has ever been outside their home has realized that the hustle of life can easily become the cause of some serious anxiety and stress. Just take a look at anybody, and you will be able to see their worry lines on their forehead. But not to fear; by incorporating some yoga moves when you are feeling overwhelmed with anxiety and stress, you can easily help relieve those symptoms and get back to being you. But before we can relieve your anxiety, we must first understand what anxiety is.

What Is Anxiety Anyways?

In general, anxiety is a mental disorder that can cause you to feel worried, nervous, fearful or even apprehensive. If you have anxiety, you essentially get a feeling of being overwhelmed when you think of things in the future.

paint of women with anxiety image

For example, you may start feeling anxious and nervous when you think of having to go to work on Monday.

When you are having an anxiety attack, it can also affect how you behave. If the symptoms last for a prolonged amount of time, they can even start to physically affect you as well. There is no other way to put it, anxiety is just plain unsettling, and even though a mild amount may not be that serious, a more severe attack can be so bad as to negatively affect your everyday life.

You’re probably thinking that you always have an anxiety attack every time you are faced with a new challenge. In this instance, feeling a little worried or intimidated is 100% normal. It’s when your worry starts to affect your sleep, how you feel, and the way your body functions that it starts to become a concern.

Anxiety is typically a reaction that has been blown out of proportion compared to what is normally expected when faced with a certain situation.

Now that we know what anxiety is, how can yoga help to relieve the symptoms of it?

How Can Yoga Help With Anxiety Relief?

Yoga is great for helping to relax you and calm any type of anxiety that you may be feeling. Yoga will give you a full body stretch, as well as stimulate some of the different hormones within your body.

On top of that, it also helps to heal your nervous system. This healing of your nervous system will cause your body to release endorphins, the happy hormones. These alone will help alleviate any anxiety and help you start to feel better.

Stretching has been proven to relax your body and also calm your mind. By doing this, your body will be able to release any tension that may be trapped within it more easily.

Here are some of the best yoga poses for anxiety relief.

Best Yoga Poses For Anxiety Relief

Here are some of the best yoga poses that you can add to your daily routine to calm your mind and relax your body. These are especially helpful for when you are feeling anxious and worried.

Do your best to spend about 3-5 minutes doing each pose to get the maximum benefits. Remember that while doing yoga will help to alleviate some of your anxiety symptoms, it is not by any means a cure for anxiety. But by you enjoying these poses, you will be helping to nurture your mind and body.

  • Child’s Pose

During yoga, Child’s Pose is often used to rest. It is common for people to use Child’s Pose to relax and regroup between more challenging poses. It is very useful in releasing tension in the shoulders, back, and neck, which is where many people tend to hold their stress.

yoga childs pose image

Child’s Pose also helps promote relaxation through steady, conscious breathing, which ultimately helps to calm the nervous system.

When using Child’s Pose to help relieve anxiety, feel free to hold the pose for as long as you would like to. When you have finished, slowly move back to an upright position and make a note of how relaxed you are feeling.

  • Tree Pose

The Tree Pose is a fundamental pose when it comes to easing your anxiety. When you implement basic balances, you are promoting focus, awareness, and concentration. These all take your mind away from your anxiety and put the attention on yourself.

yoga tree pose image

The best thing about Tree Pose is that you can do it literally anywhere you can stand up. Standing in line at the grocery store, while eating lunch, or even waiting to cross the street. This makes it one of the best yoga poses for anxiety relief.

If you feel anxiety creeping in, simply go into Tree Pose.

  • Warrior III

Once you are comfortable balancing on one leg, the Warrior III pose will help you to lengthen, strengthen and challenge yourself. This pose will not only help to improve your core strength, coordination, posture, and balance; it also helps stimulate your abdominal area, which will improve your digestion. And this is imperative when it comes to fighting anxiety according to recent studies.

yoga warrior III pose image

Plus, since Warrior III is a more challenging pose, it will shift your mindset to focusing on your pose, which takes it away from your anxiety.

  • Legs Up The Wall Pose

Legs Up The Wall Pose is excellent when it comes to relieving lower back tightness and pain, as well as the symptoms of anxiety. Plus it helps relieve menstrual cramping, arthritis discomfort, lowers high blood pressure and reduces insomnia.

yoga legs up the wall pose image

When it comes to anxiety, depending on the severity, it can just plain ruin your day. By implementing anxiety relief techniques like the yoga moves listed above, you will be able to keep yourself calm and your anxiety at bay.

What makes yoga for anxiety relief even better is that you can do it anywhere. It does not take much space to do any of the yoga moves that will help you relieve your anxiety.

Just try to spend a few minutes doing each pose, and you will feel yourself start to feel a lot calmer, more relaxed, and more like yourself.

This article is originally published on SundayScaries.

Hugs,

Shaline

How to Find an Essential Oil Company You Can Trust

Aromatherapy has taken the wellness world by storm, and for good reason. From moisturizing your cuticles to positive breathing experience, essential oils have several awesome benefits.

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Finding a Reputable Essential Oil Company

 

Like any popular product on the market, not all essential oils are created equal. You wouldn’t go to a restaurant without consulting Yelp or getting your haircut  without asking for references, right? You should approach wellness companies with the same caution.

Finding reputable companies can be difficult, though. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of traits to help you choose a company that’s making oils you can trust.

 

essential oil sample bottles

 

The Essential Oils Company Checklist

 

1. They’re Transparent About Where Their Oils Come From

Because essential oils can be easily contaminated, brand transparency is everything. A company should be able to tell you how they harvest and extract their ingredients and where each oil is sourced. They should also be able to tell you the Latin name of each oil so you know exactly what plant the oil came from.

For example, there are many different species of lavender. If you don’t know the specific kind being used in your oil, you may not be getting the experience you’re actually looking for.

 

2. Their Products Are Pure and Backed by Science

So, how are essential oils regulated to ensure they’re pure? Unfortunately, the honest answer is that there is no official or standardized regulatory agency for testing the purity of essential oils. But, it helps if a company has put together a detailed, comprehensive quality and safety process to ensure their oils haven’t been contaminated or altered in any way. A company willing to use third-party testing is even better!

I’ve research several essential oil companies over the years i.e. doTERRA, Young Living, Mountain Rose Herbs, Living Libations, Taspens Organics, and Melaleuca. Recently, I’ve been checking out Isagenix’s new line of essential oils.

lavendar

 

3. Their Prices Aren’t Extreme

It can take a lot of plant matter to create one small bottle of essential oil, which is why some oils are more expensive than others. The price primarily depends on how readily available each plant is.

Frankincense oil, for instance, will be more expensive than lemon oil because lemons are much more readily available than frankincense. Frankincense requires a process in which sap is collected from a tree and then steam distilled, whereas lemon oil is cold pressed from lemon peels — a much easier process!

If a company is charging the same exact price for every single oil, you may need to question where they’re sourcing their plants.

Similarly, if a company is luring you in with the lowest prices on the market, you may need to consider if they’re being honest about the quality of their oils. On the other hand, just because a company has the most expensive oils doesn’t necessarily mean they have the best oils.  Note: check out my blog post about essential oils vs fragrance oils.

The key is understanding which oils are common and which are rare and checking bottle labels to determine oil quality.

 

Think You’re Ready to Choose?

Finding a company you trust  can be difficult, but at the end of the day, the more information a company is willing to share, the better. When a company is honest and forthcoming about their product every step of the way, you have everything you need to make an informed decision.

 

Summary

In conclusion, everyone has the essential oil company they like and would recommend, so I suggest doing your own research and find the best one for you.

 

Yoga for Fasting

Periodic fasting has tremendous benefits on the human body. It’s a thorough and healing reset for most systems of our body. Practicing yoga during a fast has the power to amplify the benefits of fasting. This Yoga & Fasting program is a deeply purifying process that will cleanse your body and mind in powerful ways.

What is fasting? Fasting is purposefully cutting food intake for a specific period of time to allow your body to detoxify and heal.

Why Fast? Our digestive system is always working hard to digest our food and drink, which requires a lot of energy. During a fast your body gets a break from digesting food, so it begins to work on healing other parts of the body. It can then use it’s energy to repair, reset, and work to get things in better condition.
Your immune system, adrenals, hormones, brain chemistry and metabolism can all be positively affected by fasting. After about 8 hours of no food our bodies dip into glucose stored in the liver and muscles. When the stored glucose has been used up, the body then begins to transition into a metabolic state known as ketosis and burn fat as a source of energy, which can result in weight loss. When ketones become your body’s new fuel source you become a fat burning machine! Additionally, the use of fat for energy can help preserve muscle and reduce cholesterol levels and it is extremely detoxifying.

Some benefits of fasting (and entering a state of ketosis) include:

– Improved brain function
– Strengthening of the immune system
– Cancer prevention
– Skin clearing
– Weight loss assistance
– Cleansing of organs
– Lower blood pressure
– Reduced cholesterol
– Potential reduction of risk for diabetes
– Reboot of the immune system

How does yoga help the process of fasting? Yoga and fasting are complementary, and yoga amplifies the benefits of fasting as both are purification practices. Yoga can also help give you more energy during the process of your fast. Furthermore, the detoxifying benefits of yoga will increase the detoxification of a fast. Fasts can also be a mental and emotional process and the practice of yoga provides a mental reset during the sometimes challenging and intense process of a fast.

IMPORTANT SAFETY PRECAUTIONS: While fasting is generally safe, it is not for everyone. Please be responsible and take time to explore whether fasting is the right choice for your body. Before beginning be sure to consult your doctor or health care practitioner to make sure it is safe and a good choice for you right now. While the benefits of fasting have been researched and are widely accepted, listening to your body is essential for a safe, healthy and successful fast.

What to expect and potential side effects: If this is your first time fasting, it’s important to be properly prepare yourself. The first few days you may experience headaches and/or drowsiness as well as feelings of low energy (although this isn’t the case for everyone). Because of the potential for side-effects, it’s best to pick days for your fast where you will be better suited to handle the potential side effects (especially for the first days). Set yourself up for success! Again, low-energy and other side effects aren’t necessarily experienced by everyone, and your personal experience will vary and will be your own. In fact, some people actually report feeling more energetic during a fast, so notice how your body reacts without expecting that you’ll be tired, but also try not to pick an especially hectic time in your life to try fasting for the first time.

For more information, here is a great article describing potential side effects as well as the many benefits of fasting and being in the metabolic state of ketosis.

How long should you fast? If you’re new to fasting, trying it out for one day is highly recommended before committing to a longer period. If a 1-day fast feels like the right start for you, simply practice day 1 of this program’s class(es). See how you feel afterwards and assess if you want to continue for longer or return to the program at a later time for a longer stretch. If you’re going into the full program, take care to assess what the right length is for you. Check in after day 3 and see if you’re ready to add another day or two. Stay present with your body!

How this program works: The Yoga & Fasting Program, is a 3, 4, or 5 day program where you remove food from your diet and practice one complementary yoga and/or meditation per day. As mentioned above, you choose the right duration of your individual fast.

Each day you will be offered a choice of two yoga classes to choose from. One choice will be more rigorous and effortful yoga class, and the second will be a more gentle option. The intensity level of the rigorous class options will gradually decrease over the course of the program as your energy reserves also gradually decrease. As outlined, some bodies will feel more energized and the rigorous classes will be more supportive on certain days. For others, some days during the fast may feel more restful, and the gentler classes will be a better choice. You only need to do one physical class per day as part of the program.

Fasting, can be both beneficial and challenging – not only physically, but also mentally. Because of this, we’ve included a meditation option each day. Many report feeling a mental detoxification of sorts during a fast. The body and mind are connected, and doing a deep cleanse such as this has the potential to create breakthroughs mentally. When your get rid of old toxins from your body, you will also be releasing negative emotions, so don’t be surprised if emotions come up during this time.

WHO IS THIS PROGRAM IS FOR?

  • Those who are curious about the physical and mental benefits of intermittent fasting
  • Yoga beginners and advanced practitioners
  • Anyone interested in using yoga to complement other healing nutritional or health practices

WHAT YOU WILL LEARN AND EXPERIENCE:

  • A choice of yoga and meditation classes designed to support 3, 4, or 5 day fasting
  • How to take care of yourself during a fast
  • Meditation and yoga
  • A choice of rigorous or gentle yoga classes to choose from each day, depending on how you’re feeling during the detoxification process of fasting

Enjoy giving your body and mind the gift of this Yoga & Fasting program!

 

 

 

29 Benefits for Starting a Yoga Practice

Yoga was developed over 5,000 years ago in India as a comprehensive system for well being on all levels: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. While Yoga is often equated with Hatha Yoga, the well-known system of postures and breathing techniques, Hatha Yoga is only a part of the overall discipline of Yoga. Today, many people use various aspects of Yoga to help raise their quality of life in such areas as fitness, stress relief, wellness, vitality, mental clarity, healing, peace of mind, and spiritual growth.

 

There are the reasons why you need to begin a yoga practice if you haven’t already started one.

 

29 Benefits of Yoga

 

  • Improves your flexibility. Improved flexibility is one of the first and most obvious benefits of yoga.

 

  • Builds muscle strength. Yoga protects us from conditions like arthritis and back pain, and it helps prevent falls in elderly people. And when you build strength through yoga, you balance it with flexibility.

 

  • Perfects your posture. Your head is like a bowling ball i.e. it’s big, round, and heavy. When it’s balanced directly over a straight spine, it takes much less work for your neck and back muscles to support it.

 

  • Prevents cartilage and joint breakdown. Each time you practice yoga, you take your joints through a full range of motion. This can help prevent degenerative arthritis or reduces disability by “squeezing and soaking” areas of cartilage that normally aren’t used. Joint cartilage is like a sponge; it receives fresh nutrients only when its fluid is squeezed out and a new supply can be soaked up. Without proper sustenance, neglected areas of cartilage can eventually wear out, exposing the underlying bone like worn-out brake pads.

 

  • Protects your spine. Spinal disks are the shock absorbers between the vertebrae that can herniate and compress nerves. The vertebrae craves movement. This is the only way they get their nutrients.

 

  • Improves your bone health. It’s well documented that weight-bearing exercise strengthens bones and helps ward off osteoporosis. Many postures in yoga require that you lift your own weight.

 

  • Increases your blood flow. Yoga gets your blood flowing. The relaxation exercises you learn in yoga can help your circulation, especially in your hands and feet. Yoga also gets more oxygen to your cells, which help them function better. And twisting poses are thought to wring out venous blood from internal organs and allow oxygenated blood to flow in once the twist pose is released.

 

  • Drains your lymph and boosts immunity. When you contract and stretch your muscles, move your organs around, and come in and out of yoga postures, you increase the drainage of the lymph. Lymph is a viscous fluid rich in immune cells. These movements help the lymphatic system fight infection, destroy cancerous cells, and dispose of the toxic waste products of cellular functioning.

 

  • Increases your heart rate. When you regularly get your heart rate into the aerobic range, you lower your risk of heart attack and can relieve depression. While not all yoga is aerobic, if you do it vigorously or take flow or Ashtanga classes, it can boost your heart rate into the aerobic range. But even yoga exercises that don’t get your heart rate up that high can improve cardiovascular conditioning. Studies have found that yoga practice lowers the resting heart rate, increases endurance, and can improve your maximum uptake of oxygen during exercise.

 

  • Helps drop your blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, you might benefit from yoga. Two studies of people with hypertension, published in the British medical journal The Lancet, compared the effects of Savasana (Corpse Pose) with simply lying on a couch. After three months, Savasana was associated with a 26-point drop in systolic blood pressure (the top number) and a 15-point drop in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number—and the higher the initial blood pressure, the bigger the drop.

 

  • Regulates your adrenal glands. Yoga lowers cortisol levels. Normally, the adrenal glands secrete cortisol in response to an acute crisis, which temporarily boosts immune function. If your cortisol levels stay high even after the crisis, they can compromise your immune system. Temporary boosts of cortisol help with long-term memory, but chronically high levels undermine memory and may lead to permanent changes in the brain. Additionally, excessive cortisol has been linked with major depression, osteoporosis (it extracts calcium and other minerals from bones and interferes with the laying down of new bone), high blood pressure, and insulin resistance.

 

  • Makes you happier.  Sit in a Lotus pose when you’re feeling sad. Then rise up into a back bend pose. While it’s not as simple as that, one study found that a consistent yoga practice improved depression and led to a significant increase in serotonin levels and a decrease in the levels of monoamine oxidase (an enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters) and cortisol. At the University of Wisconsin, Richard Davidson, Ph.D., found that the left prefrontal cortex showed heightened activity in meditators, a finding that has been correlated with greater levels of happiness and better immune function. More dramatic left-sided activation was found in dedicated, long-term practitioners.

 

  • Helps you create a healthy lifestyle. Yoga can help on both fronts: diet and exercise. A regular practice gets you moving and burns calories, and the spiritual and emotional dimensions of your practice may encourage you to address any eating and weight problems on a deeper level. Yoga may also inspire you to become a more conscious eater.
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  • Lowers your blood sugar. Yoga lowers blood sugar and LDL or bad cholesterol and boosts HDL or good cholesterol. In people with diabetes, yoga has been found to lower blood sugar in several ways: by lowering cortisol and adrenaline levels, encouraging weight loss, and improving sensitivity to the effects of insulin.

 

  • Helps you with focus/concentration. An important component of yoga is focusing on the present. Studies have found that regular yoga practice improves coordination, reaction time, memory, and even IQ scores. People who practice Transcendental Meditation demonstrate the ability to solve problems and acquire and recall information better. This is probably due to the fact that they’re less distracted by their thoughts, which can play over and over like an endless tape loop.

 

  • Relaxes your system. Yoga encourages you to relax, slow your breath, and focus on the present, shifting the balance from the sympathetic nervous system (or the fight-or-flight response) to the parasympathetic nervous system. The latter is calming and restorative; it lowers breathing and heart rates, decreases blood pressure, and increases blood flow to the intestines and reproductive organs—comprising what Herbert Benson, M.D., calls the relaxation response.

 

  • Improves your balance. Regularly practicing yoga increases proprioception (the ability to feel what your body is doing and where it is in space) and improves balance. People with bad posture or dysfunctional movement patterns usually have poor proprioception, which has been linked to knee problems and back pain. Better balance could mean fewer falls. For the elderly, this translates into more independence and delayed admission to a nursing home or never entering one at all. For the rest of us, postures like Tree Pose can make us feel less wobbly on and off the mat.

 

  • Maintains your nervous system. Some advanced yogis can control their bodies in extraordinary ways, many of which are mediated by the nervous system. Scientists have monitored yogis who could induce unusual heart rhythms, generate specific brain-wave patterns, and, using a meditation technique, raise the temperature of their hands by 15 degrees Fahrenheit. If they can use yoga to do that, perhaps you could learn to improve blood flow to your pelvis if you’re trying to get pregnant or induce relaxation when you’re having trouble falling asleep.

 

  • Releases tension in your limbs. Do you ever notice yourself holding the telephone or a steering wheel with a death grip or scrunching your face when staring at a computer screen? These unconscious habits can lead to chronic tension, muscle fatigue, and soreness in the wrists, arms, shoulders, neck, and face, which can increase stress and worsen your mood. As you practice yoga, you begin to notice where you hold tension: It might be in your tongue, your eyes, or the muscles of your face and neck. If you simply tune in, you may be able to release some tension in the tongue and eyes. With bigger muscles like the quadriceps, trapezius, and buttocks, it may take years of practice to learn how to relax them.

 

  • Helps you get a deeper sleep. Stimulation is good, but too much of it taxes the nervous system. Yoga can provide relief from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Restorative asana, yoga nidra (a form of guided relaxation), Savasana, pranayama, and meditation encourage pratyahara, a turning inward of the senses, which provides downtime for the nervous system. Another by-product of a regular yoga practice, studies suggest, is better sleep—which means you’ll be less tired and stressed and less likely to have accidents.

 

  • Boosts your immune system functionality. Asana and pranayama probably improve immune function, but, so far, meditation has the strongest scientific support in this area. It appears to have a beneficial effect on the functioning of the immune system, boosting it when needed (for example, raising antibody levels in response to a vaccine) and lowering it when needed (for instance, mitigating an inappropriately aggressive immune function in an autoimmune disease like psoriasis).

 

  • Gives your lungs room to breathe. Yogis tend to take fewer breaths of greater volume, which is both calming and more efficient. A 1998 study published in The Lancet taught a yogic technique known as “complete breathing” to people with lung problems due to congestive heart failure. After one month, their average respiratory rate decreased from 13.4 breaths per minute to 7.6. Meanwhile, their exercise capacity increased significantly, as did the oxygen saturation of their blood. In addition, yoga has been shown to improve various measures of lung function, including the maximum volume of the breath and the efficiency of the exhalation. Yoga also promotes breathing through the nose, which filters the air, warms it (cold, dry air is more likely to trigger an asthma attack in people who are sensitive), and humidifies it, removing pollen and dirt and other things you’d rather not take into your lungs.

 

  • Prevents digestive problems. Some digestive problems such as ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, and constipation are caused by stress. So if you stress less, you’ll suffer less. Yoga, like any physical exercise, can ease some of these digestive issues.

 

  • Gives you peace of mind.  It slows down the mental loops of frustration, regret, anger, fear, and desire that can cause stress. And since stress is implicated in so many health problems i.e. from migraines and insomnia to lupus, MS, eczema, high blood pressure, and heart attacks; if you learn to quiet your mind, you’ll be likely to live longer and healthier.

 

  • Increases your self-esteem. Many of us suffer from chronic low self-esteem. If you handle this negatively—take drugs, overeat, work too hard —you may pay the price in poorer health physically, mentally, and spiritually. If you take a positive approach and practice yoga, you’ll sense, initially in brief glimpses and later in more sustained views, that you’re worthwhile or, as yogic philosophy teaches, that you are a manifestation of the Divine. If you practice regularly with an intention of self-examination and betterment, you can access a different side of yourself. You’ll experience feelings of gratitude, empathy, and forgiveness, as well as a sense that you’re part of something bigger. While better health is not the goal of spirituality, it’s often a by-product, as documented by repeated scientific studies.

 

  • Eases your pain. Yoga can ease your pain. According to several studies, asana, meditation, or a combination of the two, reduced pain in people with arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other chronic conditions. When you relieve your pain, your mood improves, you’re more inclined to be active, and you don’t need as much medication.

 

  • Gives you inner strength. Yoga can help you make changes in your life. In fact, that might be its greatest strength. Tapas, the Sanskrit word for “heat,” is the fire, the discipline that fuels yoga practice and that regular practice builds. The tapas you develop can be extended to the rest of your life to overcome inertia and change dysfunctional habits. You may find that without making a particular effort to change things, you start to eat better, exercise more, or finally quit smoking after years of failed attempts.

 

  • Connects you with guidance. Good yoga teachers can do wonders for your health. Exceptional ones do more than guide you through the postures. They can adjust your posture, gauge when you should go deeper in poses or back off, deliver hard truths with compassion, help you relax, and enhance and personalize your practice. A respectful relationship with a teacher goes a long way toward promoting your health.

 

  • Builds awareness for transformation. Yoga and meditation build awareness. And the more aware you are, the easier it is to break free of destructive emotions like anger. Studies suggest that chronic anger and hostility are as strongly linked to heart attacks as are smoking, diabetes, and elevated cholesterol. Yoga appears to reduce anger by increasing feelings of compassion and interconnection and by calming the nervous system and the mind. It also increases your ability to step back from the drama of your own life, to remain calm in the face of bad news or unsettling events.

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Starting and/or maintaining a yoga practice can be challenging from both a time and energy standpoint.

If you prefer to practice yoga in the comfort of your home, YogaDownload offers online yoga and meditation that you can take anywhere and do anytime! You will have access to a library of over 1000 online yoga classes you can do at home or on the go. YogaDownload features world class instructors teaching classes from super relaxing to more vigorous, in a wide variety of lengths and levels. The versatility of YogaDownload is perfect for your busy schedule and makes it easy to get your yoga practice in, even on those days when you only have 20 minutes to spare!

 

Source: https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/count-yoga-38-ways-yoga-keeps-fit