You often see yoga touted as the Holy Grail of health and wellness, but what makes yoga so healthy? No matter what the health affliction is, it seems the first treatment anyone will suggest before anything else is yoga. “Have you tried yoga?” seems to be the mantra for the chorus of people who have reaped its benefits. From simple generalized anxiety disorder to chronic pain caused by cancer, yoga doesn’t inject or administer any medications into your body but instead focuses on your body’s natural ability to heal. From physical to mental benefits, yoga truly can be a healthy option for your body and mind.
Yoga has plenty of physical benefits, and it’s not surprising to hear, seeing as it uses many different physical poses. For those suffering chronic back pain, it might be tempting to just stay in bed to alleviate the pain. However, studies have shown that yoga is one of the best practices for strengthening the muscles around your spine as well as increasing flexibility. Increasing your muscle’s flexibility also helps prevent injury. When your muscles are too tight then you’re at a higher risk of injury. The more you stretch performing yoga poses, the more your muscles stretch, the more they’re insulin sensitive which has benefits for blood sugar. A combination of blood sugar regulation and blood pressure-lowering benefits of deep breathing makes a great recipe for positive cardiovascular health. Whether you want to improve your physical performance or improve the symptoms of physical pain, yoga has plenty of healthy physical benefits.
You may not know it while you’re watching someone performing yoga poses, but many of them may be doing it for a range of mental benefits. If you’ve never heard of the parasympathetic nervous system, it’s basically the part of your nervous system responsible for keeping your body relaxed. It suppresses your body’s fight-or-flight response which, if a bit off, can trigger symptoms towards an anxiety or panic attack. The deep breathing involved with yoga activates the parasympathetic nervous system, and it’s why deep breathing is suggested during anxiety or panic attacks. Yoga is often suggested for its connection with mindfulness and its benefits for battling depression and other mental health disorders. Even those who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder can find health benefits in performing yoga poses when they feel they need to perform a repetitive task. Practicing yoga when the temptation comes about to dive back into compulsive habits is an effective healthy coping mechanism. From relaxing the mind to giving the brain effective coping skills, yoga truly is a healthy option for those suffering mental disorders.
Lastly, there are a number of emotional benefits of yoga as well. Post-traumatic stress disorder can trigger an emotional response when someone is exposed to certain stimuli. When the body is reacting to an emotionally jarring event, the body tenses up and the brain tends to go haywire. Your body may go into a fight-or-flight response which, going back to the mental benefits of yoga, can cause anxiety or panic symptoms. Increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and nausea is some of the negative symptoms associated with a sharp spike in emotional stress. Practicing yoga doesn’t always have to be about calming our emotions down from distress, but it can always improve our patience and compassion for others. Slowing our breathing and focusing on the present, so while yoga is touted for its physical and mental benefits, we can’t ignore the emotional benefits that make yoga so healthy.
Different forms of yoga are practiced all over the world. There is no one way to perform yoga and it’s not difficult to start. If you want to start yoga, it’s as easy turning on YouTube and watching a few yoga videos. From there, you can find what works for you and whichever condition you’re trying to alleviate. It also doesn’t have to just be about relieving pain or any disorder, you could do yoga simply for its ability to calm both your body and your mind. So the next time someone asks if you’ve tried yoga, don’t sneer in disbelief, because they’re only looking out for your health.
If you would like to try one of our yoga classes give us a call at (530) 329-8490