7 yoga health benefits

7 Health Benefits of Yoga For Weight Loss, Anxiety & Immunity

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It wasn’t so long ago that yoga was considered a fairly niche activity, reserved for nature lovers and hippie types only. Now, thanks to increased awareness of the full range of benefits offered by the low-intensity exercise, yoga resorts, gym classes, and training videos are popping up in all different forms.

If you want to, you can bypass traditional yoga altogether and opt for something a little more out of the box. Goat yoga, bikram yoga, yoga in the dark, yoga raves, aqua yoga, and karaoke yoga are all very real novelty yoga classes that exist today. But however you choose to practice the exercise, you’ll more than reap the benefits of yoga if you take it up as a regular activity.

What is yoga?

Somehow managed to miss the yoga hype entirely up until now? Here’s what you need to know:

Yoga is a mind and body practice that originated some 5,000 years ago in India. There are various styles of yoga, but they all work to combine a number of techniques like physical movements, breathing exercises, meditation and stretching, all with the aim of promoting better health and wellness.

Yoga and stretching

Most modern yoga classes focus on improving strength, flexibility and breathing. Although movements tend to be slower and lower intensity, don’t dismiss yoga as a simple exercise. If you’re not gasping for breath by the end of a yoga session, you probably haven’t been doing it right.

There are many different styles of yoga, which vary in intensity and purpose. You should assess your own physical fitness and choose a class that’s at the most appropriate level for you.

Now that you know more about yoga as a practice, it’s time to discuss the health benefits of the exercise. Stay tuned to learn how yoga can positively impact on your mind and body today:

How yoga can positively impact on your mind and body today:

1. Helps you to burn fat for faster weight loss

extended side angle pose is particularly good for weight loss

Many people assume that because there’s not a lot of running and jumping involved in yoga – if any – that it mustn’t be very effective in helping you to lose weight. Actually, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Yoga is one of the best exercises for speeding up the metabolism and supporting weight loss.


Yoga can keep your metabolism burning strong, thanks to its stimulating and strengthening effect on the endocrine organs. This means that long after you’ve finished your yoga practice, your body will continue to burn calories while you’re resting.


The extended side angle pose is particularly good for weight loss, as it stimulates your metabolism through the twisting element of the pose, which massages your endocrine and abdominal muscles. Step your left foot forwards into a lunge, and place your left arm on the floor, raising your right arm into the sky and following it with your gaze. Hold the pose for as long as you can, then repeat on the right side.

2. Improves blood flow around the body

downward dog pose is particularly beneficial for circulation

If you’re struggling with poor circulation, yoga is a simple way to get the blood flowing at a faster rate around your body. Experts say that practicing yoga on a daily basis can improve circulation, with the movement of different poses bringing more oxygen to your cells, helping them to function better as a result. Poses that involve twisting allow fresh oxygenated blood to flow more easily to your organs, and inversion poses reverse blood flow from the lower body to the brain and heart.


The downward dog pose is particularly beneficial for circulation because it puts your hips above your heart and your heart above your head, which means gravity helps to send blood flow to your head. It also strengthens your legs, improving their circulation. 


Start on your hands and knees, with your knees directly under your hips. Slowly transfer from your knees to your feet, walking backwards if necessary, and press up with your hands, so your hips are pushing towards the ceiling. Hold the pose for at least 30 seconds, flexing each leg from time to time.

3. Increases flexibility

At first, you may struggle to achieve proper form in many of the popular yoga positions during practice. This is because the majority of us lose our flexibility as we age, and the only way to really bring it back is to continue to practice yoga moves frequently, pushing ourselves a little harder each time. If your muscles and joints are tight, you’ll find it more difficult to carry out simple, day-to-day activities, which is why it’s so important to work on improving your flexibility on a daily basis.


There are a number of yoga poses that are specifically designed for improving flexibility. The standing forward fold is a simple move that requires planting your feet on the floor at a hip-width’s distance apart, and slowly folding forwards with the aim of touching your nose to your knees. This will test the flexibility of your leg and back joints in particular.
7 amazing health benefits of yoga

4. Improves muscle strength and tone

You can quickly improve muscle strength and tone is the boat pose

There’s no need to spend hours working out at the gym to improve your muscles – yoga can help you achieve your strengthening and toning goals while having far more fun. While weight training tends to focus on one muscle or muscle group only, yoga exercises a whole set of muscles around the body all at the same time. 


In particular, muscles in your back, stomach, arms, legs, neck and feet can benefit from regularly practicing yoga. When you’re performing yoga poses, you’re using your own bodyweight to improve muscle strength, no weights required.


One of the best yoga poses that can quickly improve muscle strength and tone is the boat pose. This requires sitting down with your arms by your sides and your legs bent in front of you, feet placed flat on the ground. 


Slowly lean back in your seated position, lifting your legs off the floor and raising your toes to point diagonally in front of you. When you’re ready, lift your arms off the ground too, and lean back until you can feel the pull on your abdominal muscles. Make sure your back doesn’t round during this process.

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5. Calms the nervous system and reduces stress

Yoga’s benefits are more than just physical. Known primarily as a relaxation exercise, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that yoga is also good for your mental health, especially when it comes to reducing stress and anxiety. 

The easy pose can help reduce your stress

As with any exercise, yoga relieves stress by keeping your body healthy and releasing endorphins, the natural “happy” hormone. Yoga also relieves stress through stretching and breath control, helping you to release any stored-up tension from your body and clear your mind.


There are a number of yoga practices that focus more on the breathing and meditation element of yoga, which are more appropriate if you’re looking for something to reduce your stress. Try the easy pose, which, as the name suggests, is fairly simple and stress-free in itself. 


Sit down, cross your shins with your right shin in front, and fold forwards. Breathe deeply for five breaths, then put your hands on the floor and slowly lift back up again.

6. Improves your sleep

Struggling to get a decent night’s sleep? Yoga might be the solution you didn’t know you were looking for. While most people think of yoga for improving their core strength and flexibility, it can come in useful when we need to get some good shuteye, too. 


Studies have found that when people who have insomnia practice yoga on a daily basis, they sleep for longer, fall asleep faster, and fall back asleep more quickly if they wake up in the middle of the night. Yoga has also been found to help pregnant women and older people to sleep more soundly through the night.


Have a go practicing a few of the yoga moves that are particularly good for assisting in sleep. The wide-knee child’s pose is a simple move that most people should be able to master. Even if you don’t have time for a full yoga session, practice this move before bed to promote restful sleep. 


Kneel down on the floor, put your feet together behind you, and make sure your knees are at a hip-width apart. Then let yourself sink forwards with your arms behind your back, and rest your nose on your thighs if you can.

7. Boosts the immune system

Whether you want to avoid picking up so many colds and coughs, or you’re just looking to live the healthiest life possible, yoga can help by giving your immune system a much-needed boost. Yoga helps lower stress hormones that compromise the immune system, as well as conditioning the lungs and respiratory tract. 


Plank pose stimulates a number of systems related to the immune system

Some studies have even found that yoga can stimulate the lymphatic system to eliminate toxins from the body. Certain yoga poses can also encourage more oxygenated blood to various organs to ensure their optimal function.


There are a number of yoga poses that are particularly good for the immune system, so if you’re the sort that always seems to get sick, you’ll want to give a few of these a go yourself. Try the plank pose, which stimulates a number of systems related to the immune system, including your digestive and nervous system. 


Start on your hands and knees, then step your feet back, making sure your hands are positioned directly below your shoulders. Firm your thighs and draw your belly back towards your spine to align your core. Try to stay in this position for at least a minute before releasing back onto your hands and knees.

Conclusion

There are so many reasons to practice yoga as a weekly or even daily hobby. As well as being great for your health, it’s also an incredibly fun pastime to take up alone or with friends.

If you’ve never tried the exercise before, but want to give it a go, take things slowly to begin with. Yoga requires a certain level of flexibility that not all of us have – and that’s okay! Over time, regular practice of yoga will help you to achieve new flexibility goals and improve your fitness levels, so if you can’t master a pose to begin with, keep trying until you get there.

Yoga

You can practice yoga in a number of different ways: alone, following a workout video, or in a specially designed yoga class. Yoga retreats, a type of holiday package that combine yoga sessions with healthy living and relaxation, are becoming all the range at the moment, and are a good way to get your fix of the exercise in an appealing vacation destination. 

However you want to practice yoga, you’re certain to see the benefits to your mind and body over a certain period of time. The trick is to continue to increase your skillset with every session to get the most out of the exercise.

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