How this 5,000-year-old practice is still relevant.
Increases concentration. Yoga focuses your attention on only one object such as your breath or a certain image. It’s a great way to shut off “mind chatter” and can provide much-needed relief for our 21st century brains overstimulated by technology.
Manages stress. Yoga can help moderate the body’s biochemical response to chronic stress by reducing levels of the hormone cortisol. This means relief for stress-induced health issues too, like insomnia, back and neck pain, and headaches.
Improves mood. Studies show yoga can boost levels of feel-good brain chemicals like serotonin, GABA, and dopamine that lead to feelings of happiness and contentment.
Promotes awareness. As a mind-body practice, Yoga promotes a sense of wholeness and can make you more in tune with your body. This is why it’s often a key part of programs promoting healthy body image and mindful eating.
Releases tension. As little as five minutes of stretching can help loosen and relax tight muscles. Stretching can also release the lactic acid that builds up with muscle use causing stiffness, tension, pain and fatigue.
Builds muscle. Yoga is a great low-intensity type of strength training, using the weight of your own body to move from posture to posture. In certain poses like the plank, you even lift every pound of it! Go for Ashtanga or Power Yoga if you are looking to build strength.
Increases flexibility. Yoga poses not only stretch the muscles, but all of the body’s soft tissues including ligaments, tendons, and the fascia sheath that surrounds your muscles. This helps increase your fluidity and range of motion.
Steadies breathing. Deep, mindful breathing is calming to the sympathetic nervous system (which regulates stress and is usually overstimulated) and stimulating to the parasympathetic nervous system (which rules the “rest and digest” functions of the body).