Written by Jackie Sloves for Anamaya
Top 10 Health Benefits of Yoga
Here are some of the health benefits you will experience when you attend a Yoga Retreat at the Anamaya Resort Hotel:
1. Flexibility – When yoga is integrated into one’s exercise routine, it gently stretches the muscles, soft tissues, ligaments, and joints throughout the body. The muscles are loosened because stretching releases lactic acid that is built-up over time. This effect often relieves fatigue, pain, tension, and stiffness that is felt throughout the body. In doing yoga, an individual is able to stretch to reach their own limits. This means that some may be doing splits and backbends, while others are reaching for the tips of their toes. The beauty of yoga is that neither way is wrong!
2. Strength – Part of yoga is holding various poses – or asanas. Integrating yoga poses that target the upper and lower body gives your entire being a workout. Some forms of yoga are more intensive and demanding, such as power yoga, and these focus on building muscle. Yet even the lighter, less vigorous forms of yoga, build endurance and muscle tone. All forms of yoga concentrate on building strength from the core, increasing abdominal and back strength.
3. Posture – One of the focuses of yoga is correct alignment of the body. This is encouraged in two ways: awareness of one’s body, and core strength. When one has a heightened awareness of one’s body, one can notice and correct slouching and incorrect posture. With the added core strength of the lower abdominal and back muscles, correcting bad posture becomes easier and easier. An interesting fact about yoga is that it often causes people to grow taller. Regular yoga practice elongates the spine by stretching it out, creating more space between each disk. In addition it builds the spine muscles, which are able to hold the extension.
4. Reduces Stress – Yoga reduces stress levels because it causes a sense of calmness. This calming effect has been studied scientifically, and is the result of various biochemical responses within the body. One of these responses is an increases in levels of oxytocin, which is the hormone that causes feelings of trust and connectedness with others. Another bodily response is that of lower hormone levels of catecholamines, which are produced in response to stress, and neurotransmitters such as dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine.
5. Reduces Risk of Heart Disease – Through controlled breathing techniques, yoga contributes to a slower heart rate and lower blood pressure. This reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. In incorporating yoga into one’s routine, one adopts a lifestyle that can help prevent heart disease. Yoga is also correlated with higher functioning immune systems.
6. Arthritis – Some of the symptoms of arthritis include pain, stiffness, and swelling of the joints. One cause of these symptoms is excess uric acid deposits in the joints, which promptly causes deterioration in the joints and the soft tissues surrounding them. Yoga helps to cleanse the body of uric acid, which in turn helps prevent and cure one of the symptoms of arthritis. In stretching, the joints are lubricated, which prevents the body from experiencing pain and stiffness over time.
7. Breathing and Asthma – A major component of yoga is deep, controlled breathing. Most people become shallow chest breathers at the age of 8. In having a heightened awareness of one’s breath, one is able to utilize more of their lung capacity. In increasing lung capacity, one has easier air flow and can cope with asthmatic symptoms of wheezing and shortness of breath.
8. Back Pain – Back pain affects over 80% of all Americans, disguised on many forms: upper, middle, lower pain resulting from muscle spasms to degenerative discs to pinched nerves. Whatever the ailment may be, it is often difficult to treat it with anything other than pain medication. Yoga is a natural way to help cure one of back pains. As mentioned previously, it strengthens core muscles, and elongates the spine by creating space between discs. This improves posture and helps to alleviate back pain.
9. Balance – Both physically and mentally, yoga helps to increase balance. Physically, yoga increases alignment within the body and tones muscles, which in turn help one to find their center of balance. Mentally, yoga concentrates on emphasizing relaxation and quietness of the mind, which can help one find balance within oneself.
10. Concentration and Mood – In practicing yoga, one increases oxygen flow throughout the body, including the brain. This then causes one to concentrate better, think clearly, and remember better. When more oxygen is circulating this also enhances one’s mood and can increase feelings of happiness. On top of that, endorphins are released during exercise, which also increases levels of happiness.