The word “Yoga” is taken from the Sanskrit word “Yuj” which means “to bind”, “to yoke” or “to join.” There are various meanings of this word, with the prime root being connection. It is an age-old practice that leads to perfect harmony between mind and body when universal consciousness unites with that of individual consciousness.
Yoga is not entirely about doing physical poses called asanas. It also includes a wide range of self-disciplinary and contemplative practices such as chanting, meditation, rituals, prayer, mantras, breathing exercises, and even selfless action. When mental, physical, and spiritual practices are all woven together, what comes in, is a potent dose of well-being. One doesn’t need to practice yoga for hours to achieve its benefits, even a simple daily 15 minutes of yoga can be enough to transform the health of an individual for the better. Still not convinced?
Here are 11 ways backed by science by which Yoga is beneficial and the time spent on doing it is worthwhile.
1. Improves Flexibility and Mobility
Yoga offers many poses or styles of varying intensity from mild to moderate to high, all of which can increase one’s flexibility and mobility. With new ways to move the body and stretch it, one can expect flexibility in the back, shoulders, hamstrings, and hips of the individual over time. Yoga is even beneficial for older people who are immobile and have reduced flexibility. Some poses to try to achieve greater flexibility and mobility include the eye of the needle pose, reclined big toe pose, and eagle pose.
2. Stress Relief
Yoga is a legit stress buster. Doing yoga asanas, meditation, auditory rituals, and breathwork can help reduce stress. Scientific research has shown that regular practice of yoga can lower one of the stress hormones called cortisol and even make people feel better about themselves. Some poses to try to get a much-needed break from stressors are to include the thunderbolt pose, standing forward bend, and legs up the wall pose.
3. Boosts Heart Health
Studies reveal that yoga can help lower one’s cholesterol levels and also delay heart disease when done along with stress management and dietary changes. One research also summarised that yogic breathing (pranayama) can mightily benefit one’s cardiovascular system by making favorable changes in arterial pressure, heart rate, contractility of the heart, and stroke capacity. Some pose worth a try for improved cardiovascular functioning include the extended side angle pose, cobbler’s pose, happy baby pose, and garland pose.
4. Teaches Healthier Breathing Exercises
Yoga includes breathing exercises called pranayama which focuses one’s attention on breathing and how to take deep breaths for overall well-being. Certain pranayama like Kapalabhati (Skull shining Breath) can help allergic people by clearing their nasal passages and soothing the sympathetic nervous system Ujjayi Breath is the best.
In one study it has been found that yoga practitioners fall asleep fast, feel more rested, and have longer sleep compared to others who don’t do yoga. Some relaxing postures that can help with sleep include lying on back with feet up the wall and a forward fold.
6. Increases Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem
For most teenagers and adults, having a good body image and self-esteem or being more comfortable and confident about themselves is often challenging. Thankfully, yoga can improve self-esteem and perceived body image in such people. It can help one improve alignment by making small subtle movements, provide better awareness of own body by improving mind-body connection, and learn to accept the body as it is without judgment. The poses worth trying for increasing focus or building strength includes Side plank, Lizard pose, Downward Dog Split, and Crow pose.
7. Eases and Prevents Back Pain
Most types of back pain happen as a result of spinal compression and tightnessSome poses that can help ease common symptoms of back pain or even prevent future pain include seated spinal twists, cat-cow poses, and cobra poses.
8. Builds Strength
There are many yoga poses like tree poses, downward facing dog, plank pose, and chair pose that can help one shape the lean muscles in the arms, abdomen, back, and legs. Holding the poses that require people to bear their body weight over several breaths can help them build muscular strength and endurance.
9. Improves Balance
As per studies on athletes, yoga is known to improve their balance and their overall performance. Newer research has even shown improved balance in older people and those with brain injuries who have practiced adaptive yoga or chair yoga.
10. Mental Benefits
Yogic breathing and movement-based yoga therapies are considered to be the best alternatives to treat the major depressive disorder and even several anxiety disorders like special phobias, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety. Yoga Nidra is a guided meditation to scan the whole body and help in reducing anxiety symptoms. One can foster mental calmness to think clearer and have better concentration through yoga poses which include pigeon pose, corpse pose, and triangle pose.
11. Help with Weight Loss
In one study, it has been reported that the practice of restorative yoga at a very slow pace with deep breathing and long holds can help overweight women shed their excess belly fat. A published review article has concluded that yoga can help with burning calories, feeling more connected with the body, reducing stress levels, and enhancing other forms of exercise, hence preventing overeating and maintaining optimal body weight and weight loss.