Yoga is an ancient practice that unites the body and the mind through enhanced breathing tactics. The belief is that having a strong body results in a strong mind. From reducing anxiety, fighting depression, to improving heart health, there are a number of benefits of adopting this form of exercise because you cannot put a price on your health and wellness. Let’s examine the benefits of practicing yoga.

Yoga Promotes Relaxation

Yoga eases stress and promotes relaxation. This is because exercise decreases the secretion of cortisol, the primary stress hormone. Stress is a silent killer because it can affect you without you knowing it, such as backaches, tension headaches, and overall decreased immunity- and its symptoms come out in many ways.  Whether used alone or with other relaxation techniques, yoga is a powerful way to reduce stress and promote healthy living.  When you practice deep breathing and mindfulness, as well as gentle exercises for the body, endorphins are released and you experience a sense of well-being. This is essential to feeling relaxed and at-ease because you know you did something great for your body and mind. 

Reduces Anxiety

Consistently practicing yoga has been shown to not only reduce stress, but relieve anxiety as well.  If you look at it closely, anxiety is just a desire to escape the present.  You should never feel this way- life is a precious gift and every moment is meant to be enjoyed.  The good memories in your life that you remember are what life’s all about.  Daily stress factors, however, whether from your job, family, and outside responsibilities, are what can make your life harder because they stand in your path of success and personal achievement.  Practicing yoga promotes relaxation and reduces stress because you’re focused on your breathing, which frees your system from the stress- causing tensions.  This is when the answers will come to you, because you’re detached and in a state of acceptance. 

Fights Depression

Woman practicing yoga on the dock by the water.
Practicing yoga has many health benefits like stress and anxiety reduction, and helps gives you a positive outlook on life.

The benefits of yoga would not be complete without mentioning how it battles depression.   As stated above, adopting a consistent yoga regime promotes relaxation and reduces stress and anxiety.  But did you know that it also reduces depression symptoms?  Depression is the number one ailment across America and it’s the silent force that holds you back. Practicing yoga, whether as a solo treatment or in combination with other exercise regimes or medication can fight depression and leave you feeling like a new person again with a newfound perspective on life. 

Promotes healthy Sleep

Following a healthy sleep routine and practicing healthy sleep hygiene is essential to having a healthy mind and body.  Without rest, your mind and body cannot recuperate from the challenges of the day and will begin to go into overdrive. Healthy sleep promotes a healthy nervous system, lowers your risks of type 2 diabetes, and promotes healthy growth through every function of the body.  Getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep is essential to peak daily performance and recovery at the end of the day. Studies show that incorporating yoga into your daily routine promotes healthy and deep sleep. Studies show that consistent yoga practice increases melatonin production, which regulates sleep and wakefulness. Combined with its anxiety and stress reducing properties, yoga is a great way to practice mindfulness and increase sleep quality at the same time. 

Improves Flexibility

Improves flexibility and balance. Because of its physical benefits, many people add yoga to their fitness routine to improve flexibility and balance. There is considerable research to this benefit, with research demonstrating how specific poses optimize flexibility and balance.  For example, standing on one leg, or the Cobra pose, which arches your back and stretches it out.  These are two of many poses that have been shown to improve flexibility while promoting an overall healthy body and relaxed mind. Practicing 15 to 30 minutes of yoga each day has been shown to enhance peak performance and promote flexibility because each pose targets a different set of muscles in your body. 

Improves Breathing

Yoga could help improve breathing. Yogic breathing, or the Pranayamas, are the exercises that focus on controlling the breath through breathing exercises and techniques. Most types of yoga incorporate some level of these breathing techniques, which work to improve breathing and lung function.  This is especially important to those with lung disease, asthma, and other heart problems and conditions.  Many patients who practice yoga report increased lung function and easier breathing because it frees up their airways. Steady practice of yoga helps clear your lungs and build endurance to optimize performance to keep your body healthy. Combined with the other benefits that yoga has on the mind and body, yoga’s improvement on your breathing can help you live a healthier and more fulfilling life. 

Yoga Improves Heart Function

Improved Heart Health- The heart pumps blood throughout the body to supply tissues with important nutrients.  Taking care of your body promotes healthy circulation is essential to living a healthy lifestyle. Working on lowering high blood pressure is essential to keeping your heart healthy and this major step of preventative medicine will have a ripple effect throughout the body and mind.  Heart attacks and strokes are the number one killers in America and are a result of a stressful and chaotic lifestyle.  There is still much to be discovered, but practicing yoga has been shown to minimize stress and decrease the prevalence of high blood pressure, which contributes to heart attacks and strokes across America on a daily basis.  

Reduces Migraines

May relieve Migraines.  Migraines are recurring headaches that affect roughly 1 out of 7 people in America. Migraines can be debilitating and are traditionally treated with a combination of medications and or physical therapy techniques. Just as yoga incorporated Pranayamas, or breathing exercises to improve breathing and airflow to the lungs, yoga also incorporated the stimulation of the Vagus Nerve, which has been proven to be effective in reducing migraines because of its healing properties. When a consistent yoga practice is adopted, the nerve is relaxed.   It’s no wonder why many patients who practice yoga report a reduction in migraines and increase in overall health. 

Promotes Healthy Eating Habits

Did you know that yoga promotes healthy eating habits? Yoga focuses on the concept of mindfulness, or being in the present moment.  Mindfulness is taught and encouraged with every activity, such as getting ready for work, reading, working, and also eating.  Mindful eating is when you pay attention and enjoy the food you’re eating, paying attention to the smell and texture of the food, as well as your thoughts and feelings while you’re eating. Paying attention to the foods you’re eating helps you adopt healthier eating practices that will in turn improve your moods and promote a healthy body as well.  Improved eating habits help control blood sugar, increase weight loss, and treat disordered eating behaviors, like Bulimia and Anorexia nervosa. For those with and without eating disorders, or those trying to improve their eating habits and be health conscious, then mindful eating can change your life for the better, and is taught and promoted in your yoga regime. 

Yoga Makes You Strong

Yoga has been shown to Increase your physical strength- in addition to increased flexibility, yoga has been proven to increase your strength and duration overtime. There are specific yoga poses that stimulate different muscle groups and promote increased muscle growth in your body. This indicated that practicing yoga can increase strength and endurance, especially when combined with other physical regimes and healthy eating practices. People who practice yoga often report an increase in upper body strength, endurance, and weight loss, as well because yoga helps tone your body.  Attaining a healthy physique doesn’t always require an expensive gym membership or purchasing sets of weights- it often requires the gentle tuning and stimulation of the different muscle groups in your body. 

Phoenix Behavioral Health offers beginner classes so you can learn the benefits of yoga so you can live a healthy and enriched lifestyle. 

Get in touch with one of our staff so we can book you for a session.