Practicing yoga daily is both a mental and physical improvement.
Not only are you helping your body to become stronger and more flexible, but practicing yoga also allows you the opportunity to calm your mind and recollect yourself.
Some might even say that yoga has changed the way they perceive the world.
Well, to a certain extent, it does. Overall, yoga is a never-ending transformation process towards your health and wellbeing.
Here are 12 health benefits of yoga on why you should consider practicing yoga daily!
Why you should do yoga?
- Improves your flexibility
- Builds muscle and strength
- Weight loss
- Improves posture
- Boosts your energy
- Prevents cartilage and joint breakdown
- Reduce stress
- Increases lung capacity (Breath better)
- Improves your mood
- Helps beat addiction
- Helps you sleep better
- Increases focus
1. Improves Your Flexibility
One of the most obvious benefits of yoga is improved flexibility. You don’t have to be flexible to start practicing yoga, the beauty of yoga is that it caters for everyone at all levels.
You will find touching your toes can be really difficult in the beginning, and don’t mention about backbends. But, if you keep practicing, your body will start to adapt, and poses that are once hard will now become easy.
Whether you are flexible or not, a few minutes of yoga practice a day will definitely make you feel the difference in your flexibility.
2. Builds Muscle and Strength
Practicing yoga daily can help build strong muscles and increase strength. Popular yoga poses like Chaturanga strengthens and tones the wrists, arms, abs, and lower back simultaneously.
By lengthening muscles, increasing joints movement, and relieving muscle tension, your muscles will operate more efficiently and effectively.
The strong muscles developed through yoga will also do more than just look good. They can prevent back pains, and improve stability and balance. This is good for both elderly people and office workers.
Can yoga tone your body?
Yes, it can. Performing yoga poses require multiple muscle groups to function effectively. While you move from poses to pose and stabilize your body with your core, you will slowly build up muscles and eventually tone your body.
3. Weight Loss
When it comes to weight loss, most people will hit the gym. However, lifting weights and running on a treadmill is not the only approach to losing weight.
Yoga can do the same!
It is a combination of cardio, strength and functional training that can be done at your own home. Practicing yoga every day will increase your metabolic rate and burn fat.
Doing yoga can also lower the level of cortisol (source), the hormone that is released in response to stress. With less stress, you will reduce the chances of overeating.
Yoga strengthens the mind-body connection which helps you deal with negative emotions instead of reaching for food to de-stress.
4. Improves Posture
Your neck and spine are holding that large head of yours constantly for 12 hours or more throughout the day.
If your job makes you lean towards one side longer, it might cause you to develop a poor posture over time. When one muscle group works more than the other, there will be a disproportion in the body.
The good news is yoga poses can help to strengthen and balance your muscle groups, and this will realign your posture overall.
Regular yoga practice can help you be more aware of your body which will change your posture habits as well. With more body awareness, you are more prone to correct yourself when you slouch.
5. Boosts Your Energy
Have you ever felt like the weight of the world is resting on your body and you just can’t bring yourself to get through the day? That low energy you’re experiencing can be a massive distraction for you to live out a productive day.
Here’s where yoga can play a part in changing that! You see, yoga is a gentle, flowing mix of both body and breathwork that can help boost your energy.
The main energy centres in your body are called chakras. They are being awakened whenever you practice yoga.
The best energy boosters are poses that focus on extending the spine and opening the chest. For example, the Tree Pose is one that helps in lengthening the spine and provides a circulation of energy throughout the whole body. The Cobra pose requires you to intake deep breaths and this allows you to open the chest more.
All it takes is just a few minutes of yoga practice every day to start feeling energetic and ready for the day ahead!
6. Prevents Cartilage and Joint Breakdown
One of the best health benefits of yoga is that it can keep your cartilage and joints healthy!
Joint cartilage is similar to a sponge, and when its fluid is squeezed out, it gets soaked up with fresh nutrients. This also means the areas of cartilage that aren’t normally used don’t receive enough nutrients and can eventually wear out, like worn-out brake pads.
Practicing yoga will force your joints to work in a full range of motion, squeezing and soaking all areas of cartilage, including the neglected areas. This will help prevent degenerative arthritis as well.
7. Reduce Stress
Stress if accumulated long-term can affect your sleep, digestion and relationship, and it also takes its toll on your body physically, emotionally and mentally.
Performing a simple yoga practice daily can calm both your mind and body.
Yoga practice session consists of three fundamental elements – physical poses, controlled breathing and meditation.
Research has shown that people who practice yoga with all three elements regularly were able to regulate their heart-rate variability (HRV) which improved their ability to respond to stress (source).
Furthermore, meditation with controlled breathing is an amazingly effective tool for relaxing and calming down the mind.
Whether you’re holding a pose or flowing through a sequence, yoga teaches you to control your breathing as you are doing all these. Being aware of your breath slows down your mind and improves your focus. And gradually, you will develop a relaxed internal state.
8. Increases Lung Capacity (Breathe Better)
There are many breathing techniques (pranayama) in yoga and they’re all a vital part of yoga.
You will learn to fill and empty the lungs completely, and most people probably aren’t used to using their full lung capacity.
These techniques will help you feel more calm and relaxed, and regular practice will also improve breathing and increase lung capacity (source). Breathing better can also help you stay calm and make sound decisions in stressful situations.
9. Improves Your Mood
Practicing a simple 10 minutes yoga routine every day can improve your mood and make you happier.
Studies show that practicing yoga with meditation regularly will increase the serotonin (happy hormone) level in the brain (source).
There is also another study examined the effects of yoga on mood, anxiety, and brain GABA levels (source). If you don’t know what GABA is and does, just know that low levels of GABA are associated with depression and anxiety.
In this research, healthy participants were randomly assigned to either Iyengar yoga or treadmill walking. After 12 weeks, they found out that the yoga group has a higher brain GABA level.
Put simply, yoga can actually change your brain chemistry to improve your mood.
Isn’t it amazing?
How does yoga improve your mood?
Yoga changes your brain chemistry by increasing the serotonin level and brain GABA level to improve your mood and lower anxiety and stress.
10. Helps Beat Addiction
If you’re trying to quit smoking, overeating or alcohol, yoga can be a complementary tool to help beat these addictions.
A 2019 study shows that yoga is helpful as an aid for those who are trying to quit smoking (source). The participants were divided into two groups in this research. One group is doing Iyengar yoga classes and the other group received general wellness classes.
8 weeks later, the researchers discovered that the participants from the yoga group were smoking fewer cigarettes than before. Moreover, the yoga participants had a 37% greater odds of quitting smoking compared to the other group.
11. Helps You Sleep Better
If you’re having trouble falling asleep, you can try doing some yoga!
Living in the modern world today has put many of us in high alert all the time. We are constantly thinking and accumulating ourselves with unwanted concerns and stress. The constant worrying will often lead to insomnia or lower quality of sleep.
Luckily, one of the health benefits of yoga is that it can improve your sleep quality so you can sleep soundly every night.
Practicing restorative yoga or go for a yoga nidra session helps to provide your nervous system some downtime, turn your senses inward and help you sleep better.
Researchers found out that long term practice of yoga exercises is linked to good sleep quality and lowers sleep disturbance (source). The participants were older adults and they did yoga exercises for 2 years. As a result, they were able to fell asleep faster while also decreasing the use of sleep medication.
There is another study confirmed that yoga appears to improve sleep quality and quality of life of 120 elderly participants after 6 months of practicing yoga (source).
If you sleep better, you’ll be both less tired and less stressed.
Oh, and no more paying for sleeping pills!
12. Increases Focus
Can’t seem to concentrate?
It’s time to do some yoga then. But, how does it help in this?
The elements of yoga consist of breath control and meditation practice which help you stay in the present moment.
Believe it or not, just a mere 10 minutes of mindful meditation can prevent your mind from wandering (source). It shifts your attention from your internal world of worries to the present moment and allows you to focus on the current task at hand.
A study conducted in 2018 had participants went through 3 months of meditation. After the 3 months, the results show that they have improved sustained attention and longer reaction time (source).
As you can see, yoga and meditation can definitely improve your focus. You can do more without getting distracted and approach your everyday tasks more efficiently.