Yoga is practiced around the world for multiple reasons. Some people practice yoga as a workout, meditation, stretching, or mental practice. Practicing yoga has so many benefits for your body. In honor of International Yoga day on Friday June 21, here are some things you might not know about yoga.
1. It helps you stay sharp.
Using the meditation benefits of yoga helps your brain stay sharp. Think about all the time during the day you use your brain. You use your brain at school, work, and even during your hobbies. Meditative yoga helps your brain calm down for a bit. Giving your brain a break is very beneficial to stay sharp.
2. You build strength.
Many people think yoga is just stretching and meditating. It is so much more than that. Certain poses, for example, side plank and crows pose, will tone your muscles. If you're not into meditation and stretching, find poses that help you build strength.
3. Makes you mentally stronger.
Like many forms of exercise, yoga can help you stabilize anxiety and other mental issues. One study shows that 12 weeks of yoga can help increase GABA levels in the brain. Many people with low GABA levels suffer from mental disorders.
4. Improves breathing.
In many poses, you have to really focus on your breathing to hold that pose. Many yoga teachers will do breathing exercises during their practice which helps you understand how to control your breathing. Improved breathing can help you in your other exercises or daily activities.
5. Helps digestion.
Many poses that use your tummy will tone your abs. That isn't the only thing it will do though. Yoga can help stimulate the endocrine glands which works with your digestive system. Some poses to help digestion are seated forward fold, cat-cow, downward facing dog, and bridge pose.
6. Improves balance.
You may think you don't need to improve your balance. Have you ever tried some of the poses in yoga? Even highly skilled yogis may have trouble keeping balance. Better balance means better posture and movements.
7. Can help reduce hangover symptoms.
Of course this may be the last thing you want to do when you have a hangover, but doing light yoga actually helps a lot. Some poses help out the thyroid gland which boosts your metabolism and gets toxins out of your system. It will also help circulate blood flow that will help your body get better.
8. Helps you sleep better.
Like any exercise, yoga will help you get a better night's rest. With yoga, you get a workout, meditation, and breathing techniques that help your body calm down and want to sleep. I love doing a nice yoga flow before bed to get my thoughts in order and to help me calm down after a stressful day.
9. Losing weight.
Yoga also helps you lose weight. Yoga doesn't have to be slow and mindful. It can be fast and rigorous. There are all different types of weight loss yoga. Hatha is focuses on a combination of yoga types and is a total body workout. It can be hard to keep up with sometimes so mastering basic poses beforehand might be helpful.
10. Helps with other exercises.
When I first started yoga, I did it before and after lifting. I really liked it as a warm up and as a cool down. Yoga helped me keep balance with other exercises such as squats and lunges.
If you're thinking about doing yoga, I highly recommend it. It can be challenging, relaxing, and fun all at the same time. The fun thing is you can do it from your home. It's a great way to get a workout in even if you can't make it to the gym!