Fitness+Exercise

4 Health Benefits of Yoga

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Maintaining a yoga practice can be a great way to reduce stress, stay in shape and calm the mind. But there are also some less well-known benefits that you’ll get from practicing Yoga.

Here are 4 Health Benefits of Yoga:

1) Less Stress

Multiple studies have shown that yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety. It can also enhance your mood and overall sense of well-being.

Among yoga’s anti-stress benefits are a host of biochemical responses. For example, there is a decrease in catecholamines, the hormones produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. Lowering levels of hormone neurotransmitters — dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine — creates a feeling of calm. Some research points to a boost in the hormone oxytocin. This is the so-called “trust” and “bonding” hormone that’s associated with feeling relaxed and connected to others. (source)

2) Better Fitness

Yoga can lead to improved balance, flexibility, range of motion and strength. And this means you’re less likely to injure yourself in other physical endeavors or in your daily activities.

Yoga will help you lose weight. Practicing yoga changes your mind: It changes the way you approach life, your body, and eating. Yoga shows you how to appreciate your body for all of the amazing things that it can do for you and points you in the direction of wanting to fill your body with the best possible fuel rather than processed junk food. And changing your mind about your body and the foods you feed it will be a much more effective weight-loss tool than burning a bunch of calories in an aggressive kick-boxing class and then mindlessly plowing through equal or more calories later that day. (source)

3) Management of Chronic Conditions

Yoga can help reduce risk factors for chronic diseases, such as heart disease and high blood pressure. Yoga might also help alleviate chronic conditions, such as depression, pain, anxiety and insomnia.

As yoga has become more popular in the West, medical researchers have begun studying the benefits of therapeutic yoga. This is also called integrative yoga therapy or IYT. It’s used as an adjunct treatment for specific medical conditions, from clinical depression to heart disease. Yoga benefits other chronic medical conditions, relieving symptoms of asthma, back pain, and arthritis. Most worldwide clinical studies are happening outside of the U.S. But even the NIH has funded clinical trials on yoga and its health benefits for insomnia and multiple sclerosis. (source)

4) Mental Boost

New research published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health suggests that yoga practice temporarily boosts memory and focus more than jogging.

“While practicing yoga, you are focused on your breath and mindfully aware of your postures,” said study author Neha Gothe, an exercise psychologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “These mental exercises seem to affect the way you think and focus outside of yoga practice. The practice also reduces anxiety and stress, and that in itself can lead to better cognitive performance.”

The mental performance boost lasted 30 to 40 minutes after the yoga session, but more research is needed to determine whether regular yoga practice leads to more sustained brain benefits in terms of learning, memory, and focus. (source)

Step-by-Step Video for Beginners: Sun Salutation

This video explores the traditional Sun Salutation: a simple, and effective series of Yoga Postures that invigorates the whole body. Guided by Lily Cushman, learn the sequence step by step with detailed instruction. No Yoga experience required.

Follow-Along Yoga Class: Relaxation (20-minute practice on the beach)

Here is a 20 minute yoga practice led by celebrity instructor Colleen Saidman to cultivate a sense of alert relaxation:

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