5 Reasons to Do More Yoga

Your cell phone is ringing, e-mails are never-ending, and your running late for dinner plans. Your hectic lifestyle, including aches, pains, stress, and anxiety may be getting the best of you, giving reason to turn to meditation and yoga for relief.

Yoga has become more popular in Western culture in recent years, despite its ancient roots. Yoga classes can range from being a physical workout, while others are focused on meditation, and relaxing gentle stretches. Despite differences, the founding principles are to link mind, body, and breath to calm the mind and achieve body awareness to relieve physical and mental ailments.

The core components of most yoga practices include:

Poses, which are movements designed to increase strength, flexibility, and allow the body to achieve total body relaxation.

Breathing techniques help to calm the mind and body and promotes oxygen and blood circulation to the brain, cells, and joints. The technique of linking breath to movement, teaches the brain how to control and manage our reaction to stress, anxiety, and physical reactions to feelings such as anger and contempt.

Research shows there are countless positive physical and psychosocial benefits of yoga and meditation. Here are your top 5 reasons in how just 15 minutes of yoga or meditation can benefit your health.

Benefits of Yoga

1. Improves Physical Fitness

  • Strength – Strong muscles do more than look good, they protect our body from physical ailments such as arthritis and back pain.
  • Flexibility –Improved flexibility is about our ability to engage in daily movements without aches, pains, and poor posture.  A common complaint of low back pain or knee issues, may be due to tight hips or hamstrings.
  • Aerobic Endurance – Some yoga practices, may be more physically demanding than others, helping to burn calories aiding in weight loss.

2. Improves Mental Health & Balance

Yoga and meditation helps to strengthen resilience, stabilize mood, and decrease anxiety and stress.  A recent Harvard published study reported the positive effects on school-aged children finding significant improvements in anger management, strengthened resilience, and decreased fatigue.  Participants reported “I could reflect on my day in a positive way” and were able to respond more clearly and calmly in stressful situations.

3. Strengthens Immunity

Chronic stress, leads to constantly elevated cortisol levels, a hormone secreted in response to stress, which can compromise the immune system. Practicing daily meditation or yoga 2-3x a week strengthens immunity helping to decrease occurrence of infection, symptom management, and improve sleep.

4. Improves Your Ability To Stick With Healthy Behaviors

Many of us may be jumpstarting the New Year with a Guided Reboot or be transitioning into a healthy diet to kick bad eating habits or help in weight loss, but that can be tricky!  Using meditation to stay centered has been shown in studies to be an effective confidence booster and helps individuals stay compliant to health changes and goals.

5. Helps Manage Chronic Conditions

Research has shown yoga and meditation can benefit by significantly decreasing fatigue, chronic low back pain, arthritis, blood pressure for those with hypertension, and improve cardiovascular health and irregular heart arrhythmias.  Meditation has been used in cancer patients to improve quality of life and in patients with type 2 diabetes to lower cholesterol levels and improve glucose tolerance.